A BRIEF HISTORY OF MPPC
Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church was organized by a handful of Civil War survivors who would struggle to keep it alive during some of the more difficult years in United States history. The sanctuary had been completed in 1854 as a branch of the Independent or Congregational Church of Christ Church Parish, located about 13 miles to the north. After the war, that church existed in name only, having been disorganized by the deaths and removal of the majority of its members.
Planters, some of whom had arrived from New England in 1696, started the mother church, best known today as Old Wappetaw. They called their first minister, a Congregationalist, in 1699, but throughout its long history, many of its ministers were Presbyterians. After the American Revolution, the congregation was chartered by the state legislature and its sanctuary, which has been burned by the British when they evacuated the area in 1782, was soon rebuilt.
With many of its members acquiring summer cottages in or near the Village of Mount Pleasant, worship services were conducted in the village from time to time to accommodate them. Beginning about 1828, they were held in a community church building that had been erected on a lot now known as 226 Bennett Street. A private individual sold that lot in 1846 without mention in property transfer records of a building on the property. Where summer services may have been held from then until the present Presbyterian sanctuary was erected has not been learned. From the outset, the new building was known to all as the “Presbyterian Church” although it was not affiliated with any organized church body. However, Wappetaw’s Presbyterian minister was serving it.
Several years after the Civil War began in 1861, the building had become a Confederate hospital. Before the war ended, possibly during the confederate evacuation of the area in 1865, a Union artillery shell burst overhead, raining small pieces of scrap iron down through its roof.
In January 1866, a Quaker teacher claimed the building for use as a school for the children of former slaves, occupying it until fall of that year. It was the beginning of what would become Laing School.
The Wappetaw church building had been badly abused by troops who bivouacked on the grounds. It would never again serve a congregation. Most of the surviving members had left the vicinity of the church, some relocating to Mount Pleasant. and others to McClellanville where they would later establish separate Presbyterian churches.
On November 12, 1867, Wappetaw trustees voted to seek connection of the Mount Pleasant branch with Charleston Presbytery. The branch’s six-member congregation, all men, was finally accepted as a Presbytery mission church on October 15, 1870. Jonathan Ferguson, the Wappetaw treasurer, would become its first ruling elder.
The area’s Methodists met in the Presbyterian Church until the turn of the century when they rebuilt their sanctuary, now the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Methodists’ building had to be razed after the Civil War because of its deplorable condition. Also, for a few years prior to 1884 when St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was erected, services in German, led by a Lutheran minister from Charleston, were held in the Presbyterian sanctuary on Sunday afternoons.
At the beginning of 1900, there were 36 members on Presbyterian rolls but after the Methodist Church was completed, only 17 remained. The number would continue to decline until 1908 when a membership of nine Evangelists and part-time ministers served the church until 1948, but even then, its first full-time minister was for several years responsible for the Sullivan’s Island Chapel of the Second Presbyterian Church of Charleston as well.
In 1949, a small one-story education building was constructed behind the sanctuary and about five years later, a two-story ell was added. In 1962, the first phase of the Seabrook Building, consisting of eight classrooms, was erected. The remainder was completed in 1968.
A lot to the east of the sanctuary and one immediately behind it were acquired in 1966. Additional property, including five small houses on the block on which the sanctuary is located, was purchased in 1972. Two of the white frame buildings remain.
A plaque designating the sanctuary as a National Historic Landmark was placed on the front of the sanctuary in February 1977.
A major renovation and enlargement of the sanctuary was completed in 1982. Included were reopening the balconies that had been closed off in 1949 by a unique arch beneath the ceiling, lengthening the sanctuary by 22 feet, a new choir loft behind the pulpit and the installation of a rebuilt 1886 Roosevelt tracker pipe organ. A two-story administration building also was erected behind the sanctuary, replacing the original education building.
The block structure behind the Seabrook Building – the Darby house – was acquired in 1994 for the next phase of expansion. However, the lot proved to be too small to meet the needs of the rapidly growing congregation. Instead, a major building program, completed in 2000, took place. It included a large fellowship hall, increased administrative facilities, and major renovations of both the sanctuary and the Seabrook Building.
Full Time Pastors:
Thomas W. Horton Jr. 1948-1961
Steven P. Eason 1997-2002
William H. Boyd 1962-1978
*Donald E. Feuerbach 1998-2003
Robert J Lake 1979-1980
*Allan Purtill 2000-2005
*Peter M. Jorgensen 1980-1984
Gary Bullard 2004-
James S. Lowry 1981-1992
*Tom Herrington 2005-
*Gary Bullard 1984-1988
*Chuck Goodman 2006-
*Dwight Williams 1989-1995
*John Hage 2007-
D. C. (Rusty) Douglas 1993-1995
*Denotes Associate Pastors