Congregation to rebuild 114-year-old church after fire

GEORGETOWN, SC (WCSC) - Broken ground represents what will be a new chapter for the Greater St. Stephen AME Church in Georgetown.

"This is an enjoyable day for us to have this ground breaking and to have out new church being built," said Trustee board member Terry Fulton.

The old church was apart of the Georgetown community for 114 years before it burned down last October. The exact cause of the fire is still unknown but no foul play is suspected.

"It was there since the days of horse and buggy. So a lot of people, a lot of weddings at that church it was heart breaking. It was like a member of your family passed," said Janet Graham, who lives in the neighborhood where the new church will be built.

She said members of Greater St. Stephen always kept a positive spirit even in the midst of the devastation.

"I feel that they just lost the building that's the church right there, those people under the tents," Graham said.

Greater St. Stephen Rev. Carl Anderson said the new church will be bigger and improved.

"The church is going to 20,000 sq. feet," Anderson said. "The church and the family life center and we are going to have parking all around and a walking trail."

Community members who watched the ground breaking said it's important to re-build for the future of the community.

"It shows that the heritage will continue and the foundation is here and the new generation will be tied to something the can hold to and make sure we keep the legacy going for those before us," said Tony Nelson.

The cost for the land and the church is expected to be $1.8 million. Anderson said the church is relying heavily on community donations and so far they've raised about $25,000. He said contractors are expected to begin building on March 20.

The reverend expects to be in the building by the end of August. Anderson said those interested may donate to The Greater St. Stephen A.M.E Church Fire Disaster Fund at any Bank of America.

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