Founded in 1810
Extracted from a Flyer Celebrating 200 Years of Ministry
October 10, 2010,
Edited and Expanded on
April 12, 2018
Ebenezer the Stone of Help
Our Name. Ebenezer is Hebrew for stone of help. The Book of 1 Samuel 7:12 tells us that the prophet Samuel raised a stone which he set up in commemoration of God’s help to the Israelites in their victory over the Philistines at Mizpah. Through the Years. We have noted only a few of the many saints of our church. The few members whose names appear are referenced only for the purpose of appropriately dating or verify significant milestones in the life of our church. It would be impossible (and perhaps unfair) to attempt to mention by name prominent members or families who have contributed their time, talent and gifts to our church through the years. If we were to do so, relatives or descendants of those persons accidentally overlooked might feel slighted. To see their names one only has to stroll through our cemetery and read the names inscribed above their resting places. But even then, one must realize that many of those who have richly blessed our church now rest elsewhere.
However, a simple listing of pastors has been provided because, unlike our earliest members and contributing visitors, it can be inclusive thanks to the efforts of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church which maintains well-documented records of all appointments to local churches. For the reasons that follow, the name and dates for each pastor in the list is provided without comment or special emphasis.
But more to the point, church membership specifically, and Christian discipleship in general, was intended to mirror the selfless giving and humility demonstrated by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we give praise and thanks to God for each and every one of the great line of witnesses who have contributed to our church down through these many years. We believe that many, if not all, would shun personal accolades and prefer to give all honor, glory, and credit to God above.
Our Methodist Roots. Before the American Revolution, Methodist itinerant preachers were appointed to form societies, but they were expected by their leader and founder of Methodism, John Wesley, to work within the Anglican Church, as many were not ordained. With the outbreak of the war, most of the ordained Anglican ministers, along with many who were not, returned to England. Two exceptions were Francis Asbury and James Dempster. Wesley was increasingly concerned that there would be no ordained clergy to administer the sacraments in the colonies so he planned to appoint Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury as co-superintendents.
While Asbury began to be looked upon as the leader of the groups, Coke returned to England, and Dempster moved to upstate New York, where he ministered locally.
Bishop Asbury Spreads Methodism to Our Area. In 1784, the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at the Christmas Conference in Baltimore. At the conference, Francis Asbury was elected as the first Bishop. With the Christmas Conference’s unanimous approval, Asbury was ordained and appointed as co-superintendent. He was ordained deacon on Christmas Day by laying on of hands; elder on the next day; and superintendent the next. As the leader of Methodism in America, Asbury attended meetings from Georgia to Vermont. He covered this area on horseback every year preaching and presiding over Annual Conferences and earning the nickname of “Bishop of the Long Road.” Asbury visited churches in Camden area and conducted a baptism at what would become Ebenezer United Methodist Church.
Bishop Asbury rode thousands of miles on horseback preaching Methodism in small rural communities such as ours. He inspired many preachers to take the Word of God out to the people and so they became known as circuit riders. One of these riders was The Reverend James Jenkins (sometimes called “Thundering Jimmie”).
The Wolf-Pitt and Our Founding. For a time, there were no formal churches established in Camden or Winnsboro. The local men often constructed a tent made of tree branches to provide shade during meetings conducted by circuit riding preachers. Rev. James Jenkins was an American pioneer preacher. Rev. Jenkins (nicknamed “Thundering Jimmie”) preached at a free church called the Wolf-Pitt where the Baptists also met. He joined the South Carolina Conference in 1792. It has been said that Rev. Jenkins’ ministry was far reaching and with such strong conviction that conversions often followed. In 1805 Rev. Jenkins purchased land on Sawney’s Creek, where he and his wife took immediate occupancy. Soon afterward, in 1808, he was requested to preach at a free church called the “Wolf-Pitt” where Baptists also met. It seems that many of the local pioneers had a course reputation resulting from their rough and frontier-hardened resistance to the Word of God. The Wolf-Pitt may have derived its name from a nearby depression in the ground into which the settlers placed a lamb to attract marauding wolves so that they could eliminate them from the area. Or perhaps the name derived from the demeanor of the settlers themselves who were may have initially been resistant to preaching. The coarse settlers were eventually won over by the powerful preaching of the undaunted Methodist circuit riders. This Methodist Society continued to increase “against warm opposition,” until it numbered eighty members. Then, for the sake of peace they resolved to separate, and Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church was born. Bishop Asbury’s Visit. In 1809, Bishop Francis Asbury baptized Jenkin’s infant daughter, Elizabeth Asbury Jenkins, as he was passing through the area. Per Bishop Asbury’s journal, he traveled from Winnsboro to Camden and stopped to visit Jenkins so he could baptize his daughter. Elizabeth died the following year and was buried at Ebenezer.
First Meeting House. William Blanton was a large land owner on Sawney’s Creek and also a friend of Rev. Jenkins. In 1810 Blanton sold three-quarter acres for ten dollars to the trustees of Ebenezer. The trustees were: James Jenkins, Joel Cherry, Henry Horne, Isaac Smith, Thomas Berry, James Brown, George Gilman, Abraham Blanchard and Samuel Mathis. On this site the original meeting house was built. Records in the Kershaw County Library and the Kershaw County Court House indicate that a meeting house was in use as early as September 1820. Prior to construction the land was obviously a perfect place for horse and carriages to bring worshipers. One can still see how the gradual slope of the land created a natural amphitheater for people to sit in the shade while listening to traveling circuit riders. A regular framed building (perhaps the second structure) collapsed in 1888 during a revival.
The present building was dedicated in 1889 on property given by Robert Thomas Mickle. Records describe the church build in 1889, which is still in use today, as a rectangular shaped structure painted white, with a stoop of concrete. The interior contained neat pews with a seating capacity for 150. There was a cemetery enclosed with a wire fence with the lower part of the cemetery used a burial ground for slaves. Sometime later, four more acres of land were contained in a new church yard and cemetery and bordered the old church property. Joseph Bell of Lugoff, S.C. was secretary. Records also show that R. T. Mickle deeded this additional land on May 13, 1904. M. F. Dukes was the pastor at this time and T. S. Nelson was trustee. R. T. Mickle also presented the church with a Bible on November 14, 1926.
Ebenezer and the West Kershaw Charge. At the time that the new Salem Church celebrated its first services on January 1, 1942 the West Kershaw Charge consisted of four churches: Ebenezer, Salem, Smyrna, and St. John (it wasn’t until 1959 that St. John’s Church, Lugoff left the charge).
Historic Sanctuary. The setting for this very picturesque church is at the end of a paved road on a beautiful clearing surrounded by a pine grove. Ebenezer could have been the subject of the old hymn that calls visitors to “…come to the church in the wildwood.” When one visits this small gem they step into a space that is both rich in heritage and welcoming. The bright white clapboard exterior and interior is balanced by the warmth of antique lights and the dark oak of the flooring and the trim on the pews and pulpit. This combination creates a quaint “chapel-like” appearance. The interior not only provides an intimate worship space but continues to be an excellent setting for special services frequently featuring string instruments and candlelight gatherings.
But in spite of its allure Ebenezer remains an excellent example of early Methodism’s traditional emphasis on simple practicality and humility. Additions such as stained glass windows and improvements such as a wheelchair ramp, heating, and air-conditioning have all been tastefully incorporated into the sanctuary’s structure without detracting from its historical appearance. People who appreciate the timelessness of God’s Word find Ebenezer’s sanctuary a perfect setting to hear reassurance their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At the same time, Ebenezer’s sanctuary creates a welcome refuge for restoration and revitalization enabling people to go forth into the modern world with transformational message of the Gospel.
Fellowship Hall and Classroom. Well matched and set slightly back from the sanctuary is an equally picturesque fellowship hall also of white clapboard. Another wheelchair ramp provides access into a well-decorated, multi-use space complete with restroom facilities. This intimate setting provides an excellent space for Sunday school, small group Bible study, covenant discipleship groups, prayer, wedding preparation, and small gatherings during inclement weather.
Picnic Area. Between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall is a well-shaded outdoor dining area complete with permanent buffet tables and a permanent podium/lectern. This has been the site of many homecomings meals, covered-dish suppers, cookouts, fellowship gatherings, and even Easter egg hunts. Families and individuals are always encouraged to bring picnic items here even if the church is not holding an organized gathering. Through the years the people and guests of Ebenezer have enjoyed God’s bountiful blessings and the gift of one another on this spot while admiring God’s creation all around them.
Cemetery. Beginning at the rear of the sanctuary is a cemetery that spreads gently downhill as it gradually blends into the pine grove. It is easy to imagine that this gradual slope once formed a natural amphitheater where traveling circuit riders could project their voice to gatherings seating in the shade of the pine trees. Ebenezer’s cemetery developed in three distinct stages. The newest section is at the top of the hill near the sanctuary and the oldest portion at the bottom of the hill and situated deepest into the pines. As mentioned previously, in the lowest part of this older section one can find the resting place of slaves. Another unique feature set between Ebenezer’s sanctuary and cemetery is the existence of a well-maintained outhouse or privy. With the subsequent construction of Ebenezer’s modern restroom facilities this outhouse is no longer used but stands as an example of what must be one of the few remaining such structures at any active church.
A Serene and Special Setting. Today Ebenezer and its sister churches are still served by a circuit rider. The horse of the modern circuit-riding preacher has now been replaced with the automobile. But, with services at all three churches each and every Sunday, the Sabbath is fast-paced and still full of preaching, singing, and prayer.
Many people have wandered through the doors of Ebenezer. Some have been lifelong members and others just gracing us as they passed through as visitors. There have been some changes made over the years but not many. There is something special about Ebenezer. No matter the year or which season, you can feel the serenity and peace of the grounds. It has a soothing and comforting feeling about it. Ebenezer has sustained various changes of members and pastors but the feeling you get here never changes and many would say that you would not forget it. The strength and determination of our forefathers give us great hope and faith for the future of Ebenezer United Methodist Church.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
– 1 SAMUEL 7:12
List of Ebenezers’s Pastors from 1943 Onward
Rev. Kenneth Wilson Bedenbaugh 1942-1943
Rev. Lawrence Dekalb Hamer 1944-1946
Rev. Paul Craig Scott 1946-1948
Rev. Herbert Lee Spell 1948-1951
Rev. William Dixon Davis 1951-1952
Rev. Eugene Lawson Farmer 1952-1956
Rev. George Walter Couch 1956-1957
Rev. Bessie B. Parker 1957-1959
Rev. Franklin Oscar Smith, Jr, 1959-1962
Rev. Milton Lee McGuirt 1962-1964
Rev. J. H. Owens 1964-1966
Rev. Quay Wyatt Adams 1966-1969
Rev. Dwight Hill Mims 1969-1972
Rev. Ralph Truman Bowling, Jr. 1972-1974
Rev. William D. Cooper 1974-1975
Rev. Larry J. Henry 1975-1979
Rev. Jerry Eugene Temple 1979-1984
Rev. Martha Anne Hills Andrews Jun-Dec 1984
Rev. Bessie B. Parker Jan-Apr 1985
Rev. Steven Davis Gillespie 1985-1991
Marty Nason Feb 1992-Aug 1993
Bud Boatwright Sep 1993-1997
Cheryl Rhodes 1997-1999
Jackie Connelly 1999-2002
John Williams III 2002-2006
Daniel Flessas 2006-2010
Joanne Lockard-Hawkins 2010-2013
James “Mac” McDowell 2013-2015
Tim Burleson 2015-2016
Stewart C. Kidd 2016 –
“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth t heaven but colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is all about.” — N.T. Wright