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Hebron St. Francis Center-Johns Island, South Carolina

Identifier: AMN 1172

Scope and Contents

This collection holds two series:

Series 1. Hebron St. Francis Center Documents
(1970, 1982-2011, and undated) Contains documents regarding the formation of the Center; event programs; typescripts about Black Spirituals; photocopied newspaper and magazine clippings; including articles on Gullah Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry; correspondence and various notes.

Series 2. Audio-Visual Materials
(1982-2005) Holds color and black and white photographs of the Hebron Center with organiziers and community members. Includes two (2) cassette tapes of the: "5th Anniversary of Hebron St. Francis Center,"(1988) and "Singing at Hebron," (1984).


  • Creation: 1970, 1982-2011, and undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1983-1988


Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright Notice

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Biographical / Historical

Hebron Presbyterian Church
: "One of the first Black churches on John's Island was organized after the Civil War in 1865. Hebron Prebyterian Church grew out of spontaneous praise meetings of Black people, outdoors or in formerly referred to as "bush tents" near the Gregg Plantation at the Haulover Cut. John Chisolm and Jackson McGill, two Black craftsmen constructed the building for the congregation which was completed in 1868. Situated on Bohicket Road on former Seabrook land acquired from the Hopkinson plantation, the church was constructed of wood, laboriously hauled by members from the scene of a shipwreck on the Kiawah and Seabrook beaches. The organizing pastor was the Reverend Ishmael Moultrie, a freeman from St. Helena Island who was trained by Northern missionaries at the Penn Center. The membership roll at the newly establish church was noted as 225. The church, a simple one-room clapboard building with a balcony, is regarded as the oldest Black church on Johns Island.

Hebron St. Francis Center
: A group of white volunteers led by Sister Bernadine Jax and Sister Irene Kelly of the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church from Rochester, Minnosota, came to Charleston, South Carolina searching for a meeting house. They were invited by the Reverend John H. Washington, pastor of Hebron Presbyterian Church to establish a community center at the Hebron structure. An agreement was signed between the Catholic Diocese of Charleston by Revenend Thomas Duff and the Hebron Prebyterian Church on Johns Island on October 4th, 1982. The Center's purpose was to enrich the lives of senior citzen residents of Johns and Wadmalaw Islands. Programs consisted of fellowship, scripture readings, quiltmaking and various crafts, educational programs, guest speakers, and field trips. Hurricane Hugo damaged the structure's foundation in 1989, and the Center relocated into the Fellowship Hall of Hebron Zion United Presbyterian Church.

*From: A Place called St. John's: the story of John's, Edisto, Wadmalaw, Kiawah, and Seabrook Islands of South Carolina, p.183. and program: "The History of Hebron Presbyterian Church U.S.A.," Hebron Presbyterian Church, 121st Anniversary and 16th Annual Tea," 28 September 1986.


0.209 linear feet (One half archival box) ; (15.25" x 2.5" x 10.25")

Language of Materials



In 1979, Sisters Bernadine Jax and Irene Kelly of Rochester, Minnesota were invited through the Catholic Diocese of Charleston to serve the Church on Johns Island and to develop a place and presence where community people could gather. For the following three years (1979-1982), the nuns lived on Johns Island visiting islanders and searching for a location to establish a community center.

In May 1982, Sisters Jax and Kelly attended an Ecumentical Ministerial Meeting at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Johns Island. There they met with the Reverend John H. Washington, pastor of Hebron United Presbyterian Church and Zion Prebyterian Churches. Finding out about their search for a community center, Reverend Washington offered the use the 114-year-old white framed Hebron Presbyterian Church on Bohicket Road, which had been vacate for five years.

Upon agreement from the Hebron Presbyterian Church elders and the Catholic Diocese of Charleston in 1982, and after months of preparation, the Hebron St. Francis Center had it's grand opening on January 16. 1983. The Center served as a place for fellowship, craftmaking, singing spirituals, presenting guest speakers and providing field trips.

Sisters Jax and Kelly continued to serve as Co-Directors until June 1988 when they left Johns Island to serve elsewhere. Prior to their relocation, they assisted in the formation of a leadership group to continue the operation of the Center.

This collection, donated by Sister Bernadine Jax, holds documents pertaining to the formation and history of the Hebron St. Francis Center, with event programs, community member's list, typescripts regarding Black Spirituals, photocopied newspaper and magazine clippings, including articles on Gullah Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry, correspondence and various notes.

Also included are color and black and white photographs of the Hebron Center, and two (2) cassette tapes of the "5th Anniversary of Hebron St. Francis Center (1988), and "Singing at Hebron," (1984).


Series 1: Hebron St. Francis Center Documents

Series 2: Audio-Visual Materials

Other Finding Aids

AMN 1138-Esther Kaplan Pivnick Collection of Johns Island, South Carolina, 1863-2000

Related Materials

Book: A place called St. John's: the story of John's, Edisto, Wadmalaw, Kiawah, and Seabrook Islands of South Carolina by Laylon Wayne Jordan and Elizabeth H. Stringfellow.

Processing Information

Collection processed and edited by Georgette Mayo, May 2024

Inventory of Hebron St. Francis Center-Johns Island, South Carolina
By Georgette Mayo
May 2024
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English
Sister Bernadine Jax

Repository Details

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

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States