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Unity Baptist Church celebrates its 150th anniversary

The church was organized in 1871 by former enslaved people from Jamaica.
The four families that founded Unity Missionary Baptist Church first held worship services...
The four families that founded Unity Missionary Baptist Church first held worship services outside under an oak tree in Berkeley County in 1871.(Unity Missionary Baptist Church)
Published: Mar. 28, 2021 at 5:00 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - An African American congregation is celebrating a special honor.

Sunday, March 31 will mark the 150th anniversary of Unity Missionary Baptist Church. The church is located in Eutawville in Orangeburg County, but was originally started in Berkeley County in 1871 by former enslaved people from Jamaica.

Worship services were first held outside. Four groups of people given the last names Howell, Jefferson, Jenkins and Bryant used to gather under an oak tree on the Springfield Plantation in Berkeley County to sing and pray, according to church historical records.

The group built a facility in 1881, but it was severely damaged by the great earthquake that devastated the Lowcountry on August 31, 1886.

The congregation came together and built a new church in 1889. The members eventually outgrew the building, so church leaders tore down that building, and constructed a new sanctuary. While the new edifice was under construction, the members took all of the benches out and lined them up outdoors. They held services outside for the entire summer of 1920, until the new facility was complete, according to church records.

Sunday, March 31 will mark the 150th anniversary of Unity Missionary Baptist Church. The church...
Sunday, March 31 will mark the 150th anniversary of Unity Missionary Baptist Church. The church is located in Eutawville in Orangeburg County, but was originally started in Berkeley County in 1871 by former enslaved people from Jamaica.(United Baptist Church)

In 1939, the federal government notified Unity Baptist that the Santee Dam would be built in the area, and the church would need to relocate.

Services were temporarily held in Belmont High School, while a new sanctuary was being constructed.

In June 1941, the congregation began holding services in the current church located on Highway 45 in Orangeburg County.

The current pastor is Rev. Aaron T. Brown, Sr.

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