History of

Charity Missionary Baptist Church

The General Asbestos and Rubber Company (GARCO) of North Charleston established a community (Dewey Hill) for its Negro (Black) employees. During the early 1900s, Dewey Hill got its name from a popular member of that community named Duley Lambright. He was a tall man, 6ft 4inches, also known as the Mayor. Dewey Hill was located on Virginia Avenue South of Filbin Creek. This community was comprised of 110 three-room houses and a very spacious and well constructed church building. The residents of this community were of different denominations; Therefore, a struggle ensued among the denominational groups for control of the church building.

There was a man named Andrew Stephen who was the chief fireman at GARCO and a staunch deacon of the Baptist faith. This man’s position gave him influence with the people in authority at GARCO. He along with Deacons Mose Simmons, Peter Bryant, and others led the struggle to gain control of the church building for the Baptist at GARCO. After gaining control, Sister Tina Stephen, the wife of Deacon Andrew Stephen and mother of Sister Viola Reed, named the church “Charity Baptist Church” in the year 1914. Nevertheless, persons of other denominations felt that the Baptist should not have the exclusive right to the church building. Therefore, other religious groups challenged the Baptist to alternate their services from time to time.

Under the auspices of Reverend J. T. Thomas, one of the first pastors of Charity, the legitimacy of Charity was questioned by other denominations. Church leaders were questioned regarding whether or not Charity had duly organized as a Baptist church and if Charity was recognized by a Baptist Association. With the aid of Reverend Wesley Ravenel, Moderator of the Charleston County Missionary Baptist Association, church leaders certified to the authorities of GARCO that the worshippers of Charity were duly organized as a Baptist Church and the church was affiliated with a recognized Baptist Association. Minutes of the Association were produced to satisfy other questions. The Baptists were fortunate that members of Charity such as Deacon Mose Aiken, Andrew Lambright, Ancil Gathers, and Christopher Joy were employed by GARCO and enjoyed the respect of those in authority.

Some time after 1914, Mr. Granville Adams was employed by GARCO. He and other new GARCO employees were of the Pentecostal Faith and contended for periods of worship and time to carry on other religious activities in the church building. During this same time period, the Dewey Hill community was integrated with white residents occupying the houses nearest the church building while the black residents were relocating to other communities. Hence, there was no real struggle for use of the church building.

Since the whites had no use for the church building, it was eventually demolished and a smaller church building, not nearly impressive as the original one, was erected in the Black section of Dewey Hill. The Pentecostal church members continued to use the building, alternating with the Baptists. Around the mid 1930s, Charity was established at its present site on East Montague Avenue. The first address of the church was 1428 East Montague Avenue. It was later changed to the present address, 1544 East Montague Avenue, North Charleston, South Carolina.

Reverend Richard Ashe, a member of Charity Baptist Church, carried on the religious services for a short period of time on Dewey Hill, but the new black residents who were Baptists joined the congregation on Liberty Hill. Since the number of black residents of Dewey Hill was steadily declining, Reverend Ashe discontinued his ministry on Dewey Hill and supported the new church on Liberty Hill.

At the new location on Liberty Hill, Deacon Ancil Gathers, with the assistance of Brother Eli Brockington, continued to work with the Sunday school children and involved other young people like Sister Elnora Scott to help him as long as it was feasible. Deacon Andrew Lambright served as Superintendent at the new church on Liberty Hill. Many of the members who were then children are now very active members of Charity along with their children.

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