SC State Senator Clementa Pinkney Dedicates AME Church With Freemasonic Friends

“An Awesome Day”

By Jennifer Moore
Carolina Morning News
May 24, 2004

This was no ordinary church service.

The daylight streaming into Campbell Chapel AME Church through the stained glass windows was punctuated by camera flashes.  The church’s usual members squeezed into pews next to politicians, community members and visiting clergy.

After 130 years in the 150-seat chapel on Boundary Street, Campbell Chapel AME dedicated its new 450-seat facility with ceremony, praise and thanks.

“This is an awesome day,” said the Rev. Isaac Wilborn, the church’s pastor for seven years.

Church member Annie Welch agreed, calling the day a “Grand Campbell milestone in the grand and big city of Bluffton, South Carolina.”

Welch told the congregation, “God chose ordinary people like us to make a difference in this community.  But it is not about us – it is all about God.”

She invited the crowd in the overflowing church to attend services regularly.

“You are welcome in faith, you are welcome in love and you are welcome in fellowship,” she said.

State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Ridgeland, said he was thrilled to see the church finally finished.

“I wish only that the General Assembly looked this good and acted this well,” he said.  “It gives me great pleasure to stand here and see how God has blessed Campbell and the Bluffton community.”

To mark the occasion, the Right Rev. Henry Allen Belin Jr., presiding bishop of South Carolina’s Episcopal district, led the beginning procession and gave the sermon.

“This is a joyful occasion,” he said, describing the church as a “beautiful facility” and “a great addition to Bluffton.”

Doug Corkern, the architect who designed the church, said he has worked on a lot of projects, but Sunday was “one of my proudest days.”

After the service, the building’s cornerstone was dedicated in a Freemason ceremony and guests celebrated the event with food and many hugs.

Sunday services at Campbell Chapel AME Church are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.  The church is on Boundary Street in downtown Bluffton.

Reporter Jennifer Moore can be reached at 837-5255, ext. 122, or jennifer.e.moore@lowcountrynow.com