HISTORIC LIBERTY HILL A.M.E. CHURCH
God our Father -
Historic Liberty Hill AME Church | 2310 Liberty Hill Road PO Box 744 | Summerton, SC 29148 | 803-
On June 21, 1867, five years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and 91 years after the Declaration of Independence, Aaron Smythe, Justice Martin, Isham Buchects, Moses Martin, William Briggs, Abraham Martin, Preston Ragin, Moses Oliver and Guy Oliver, as trustees for the church, received a four acre tract of land from Thomas W. and Margaret Briggs for the consideration of $1.00 “in Hand” for the purpose of building a church and for the good and moral improvement of the colored population in the community. After years of meeting in houses and holding services in a bush arbor, these first trustees were finally ready to begin the process of building a real church. The first structure for worship placed on this property was a “lean-
It is not known exactly when the first church was actually constructed, but that building served as the place of worship
Liberty Hill has endured many changes, hardships, and controversies. The spirit of Liberty Hill began before the end of slavery even though the physical building came years later. Liberty Hill’s members have historically contributed to the well-
Reverend Malachi Duncan became the pastor in 1988. On September 21, 1989, Hurricane Hugo roared through causing considerable damage to the church. His leadership guided the congregation through that trying period and during his tenure he focused on paying the mortgage and securing transportation for the church. When Reverend Duncan was made Presiding Elder, Reverend Melvin Capers became the pastor. He remained until 2008 and the Reverend Dr. Charles E. Young was sent to carry out the year. In December 2008, the Reverend Dr. Leslie J. Lovett was appointed pastor. During six years as pastor, Dr. Lovett dedicated himself to teaching the discipline and ensuring that the church’s finances were in order, including hosting annual conference twice in three years. Under his leadership, numerous upgrades and renovations were made and a church bus was purchased. Reverend Robert L. China, Jr. was appointed as pastor on November 14, 2014.
The Rev. Dr. Leslie J. Lovett
After Reverend Richburg was made Presiding Elder, Reverend J.S. Hunter was sent to Liberty Hill. When Reverend Hunter was transferred, Reverend J.H. Morant was sent to lead the congregation. Seeing the need for considerable repair, he lead the church into a major renovation project. Reverend Morant remained at Liberty Hill for just a short period and in 1971 Reverend Charlie C Gordon was assigned. Under his leadership, the renovation was completed and the mortgage paid off.
The next two pastors were Reverend Jonathan J. Baker and Reverend George F. Flowers. Reverend Flowers saw the need for an educational building and led the church in its construction. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 19, 1982, and the building was completed in 1984. On September 19, 1984, the cornerstone was laid, and on October 7, 1984 the dedication of the educational building took place.
until the “New” Liberty Hill AME Church was built.
The names of the pastors who served Liberty Hill during those early years are not known, but in 1899 a young pastor named Reverend Henry Charles DeLaine was assigned to Liberty Hill. He and the members began to dream of a beautiful temple to God situated on that hill.
To that end he lent the church the sum of $600.00 so that the church might be built. The trustees then hired a saw mill to cut the timber. After the timber was cut, it was then sent to Charleston to be soaked in the Charleston Harbor for six months, a common preservation practice at that time. Reverend DeLaine personally inspected each piece of lumber that was sent. If there were knots or if the timber was bent, he sent it back. Because Reverend DeLaine was so picky, the sawmill owner quit and Reverend DeLaine’s sons Moses, Robert, Henry, and Leo were required to operate a saw mill and finish securing the timber for the church. The “New Liberty Hill AME Church was completed, dedicated, and the cornerstone was laid in 1905.
Rev. EE Richburg
Rev. JS Hunter
Rev. CC Gordon
The Rev. Dr. George F. Flowers
Rev. Malachi Duncan
Rev. Melvin Capers
In the early 1940s, Reverend Thompson was assigned to Liberty Hill. During his tenure, the members decided to brick veneer the exterior and they began raising the money to do so. The brick veneering was begun, but before it was completed, Reverend Thompson was transferred and Reverend E.E. Richburg was sent to lead the church. He immediately began working to complete the work Reverend Thompson had begun.
Also under Reverend Richburg’s leadership, the church became a major meeting place for the Clarendon County desegregation movement in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s which became the Briggs v. Elliott Case. The case, heard before the U.S. Supreme Court as a part of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS was the first case to enter the federal court system, and the first to reach the Supreme Court since Plessy v. Ferguson. Briggs v. Elliott was the primary case argued by Thurgood Marshall.
The Rev. Dr. Charles E. Young
When the schools were integrated, Charles Hilton, Mary Oliver (Foye), Lucrisher Ragin (Green), and Rita McDonald (Jones) were the first to enroll in Summerton High School. Leola Ragin (Parks) and others quickly followed. Rita McDonald has the distinction of being the first black student to graduate from Summerton High School.
Liberty Hill has seen many changes, and has had hardships and controversies, but through them all, God has been with us and we have kept our faith in the God we love and serve.
Rev. Robert L. China, Jr.
According to court records, of the twenty persons who signed the Briggs v. Elliott Desegregation Case, fourteen were members of Liberty Hill. They were Annie Gibson, Lucrisher Richardson, Lee Richardson, Mary Oliver, Onetha Bennett, James Bennett, William “Bo” Stukes, Frederick Oliver, Edward Ragin, William Ragin, Gabe Tindal, Hazel Ragin, and Susan Lawson. Although these persons signed, many more were actively involved in the case. Because of the involvement of Liberty Hill AME Church and its members, in 2008 the church received the national honor of being listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
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