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Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church records

Identifier: AMN 1015

Collection Overview

This collection is divided into two sections:

1. Member Records contains record books noting vital statistics from baptismal, marriage and donation records of church members. Of note is a record book initially titled, Colored Members of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church 1857, which includes a list of "Trinity Colored [Class] Leader, 1857", and a list of members of free people of color, or enslaved, in Class 1. Later records of Centenary Church (1866-circa 1868) list names of class leaders, linked to lists of those in their classes, some with notations on their deaths, expulsions, transfers, etc. Also, includes listings of pastors, with salary notations (1866-1935); baptisms, noting date of baptism, and if an infant, child, or adult; a chronological record of marriages, noting name of parties, residences, places of birth, etc.; list of probationers (1868-1931), with some notations as to when received and by whom. The record book from 1919-1936 holds the complete meeting minutes of the Board of Trustees regarding church repairs, fundraisers, election of committee members, finances, etc. The "Stewards' Account" (1894-1897) record book names the leaders of 76 different classes of prominent families in the African-American community, including Ancrum, Fields, Fielding, Fludd, Heyward, McFall, Mickey, Mouzon, Noisette, Pequette, Rollerson, Seabrooke, Simmons and Washington among others. This book is a listing of classes with student and teachers, with some notations as to deaths, transfers, etc. In the "loose papers" folders, of note is a small envelope for a "Pound Party" for the Jenkins Orphanage (1908). Also, holds a photocopy of a brief history of Centenary Church (1994). NOTE: The record books and loose documents are in Fragile Condition.

2. Financial Records holds ledgers and loose documents regarding records of member donations, arranged by class; a "benevolence record;" donation receipts; church expenditures; and notations regarding attendance. NOTE: The financial ledgers and loose documents are in Fragile Condition.


  • Creation: 1857-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1866-1969

Access Restrictions

No Restrictions

Copyright Notice

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Historical Note

Prior to the establishment of Centenary United Methodist Church, free people of color had worshiped in the galley of Trinity United Methodist Church. While the congregation was encouraged to continue worshipping in the gallery they decided to establish their own church. The Reverend T. Willard Lewis and the Reverend Alonzo Webster from New England assisted in the establishment of the new church, starting services in a room of the Memminger Normal School (and the first site of the Avery Normal Institute, at the corner of Beaufain and St. Phillip Streets). Due to growth of membership, a larger structure was necessary.

In 1865, Bishop Osmen C. Baker of the Methodist Episcopal Church appointed the Reverend Alonzo Webster of Vermont to take charge of the unsettled congregation. Bishop Baker was impressed by the earnest prayers of the congregation for a suitable building and promised them the aid of the Missionary Society of New England in their effort.

The Wentworth Street Baptist Church (formerly the Second Baptist Church) offered their building for sale. The structure at 60 Wentworth Street was designed by Edward Brickle White and erected in 1842. After a sacrificial struggle that challenged the congregation's devotion, the required purchase price of $20,000 in gold was paid on April 10, 1866. Some of the gold had to be shipped from New York due to the lack of availability in Charleston. The deed was prepared to the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church on April 10, 1866, to be held in trust by Alonzo Webster, Charles Holloway, George Shrewsbury, John Gibbs, Jacob Mills, Samuel Weston, January Holmes and Archibald Walker, trustees of the church. The first seven pastors (with the exception of the Reverend W.O. Weston, who carried out the unexpired term of the Reverend T. Willard Lewis) were white. The Reverend Joshua E. Wilson was the first African-American pastor to serve.

The Quarterly Conference of the Charleston District appointed the Reverend W.H. Lawrence to secure the deed of the property of Centenary United Methodist Church from Missionary Society of New England vesting title to the Charleston Board of Trustees on November 29, 1884.

SOURCES: Lilly, Edward G., edited. "Historic Churches of Charleston South Carolina" Charleston: Legerton and Co., 1966.

"The History of Centenary United Methodist Church: April 10, 1866-April 10, 2005." Charleston: Pearl's Desktop Publishing Services 2005.


4.0 linear feet (6 archival boxes)

Language of Materials



Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, an African-American church, formed after the Civil War with the withdrawal of African-American members from Trinity United Methodist Church. In 1866, the congregation purchased its current building at 60 Wentworth Street, Charleston, South Carolina.

The records in this collection cover the beginning of Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church (1866-1978). The collection is divided into two series: Member Records and Financial Records. Member records (1857-1978, with gaps) contain vital statistics from baptismal, marriage and donation records of church members. Financial Records (1899-1969, with gaps) include information regarding church expenditures and member donations.

Collection Arrangement

1. Member Records, 1857-1994

2. Financial Records, 1899-1969

Acquisitions Information

Records donated by Howard Wine for Centenary United Methodist Church, 1993

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Georgette Mayo, May 2014

Edited by Aaron Spelbring, May 2014

Encoded by Aaron Spelbring, May 2014

Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church Records AMN 1015
Finding aid prepared by Georgette Mayo
May 2014
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Records donated by Howard Wine for Centenary United Methodist Church, 1993

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States