The Reverend Archibald Stobo established our church in 1706. He was educated at Edinburgh University and arrived in Charleston in 1700 to be the Pastor of the Independent Congregational Church. During his six years in Charleston, he established five Presbyterian churches, of which ours was one.
The earliest recorded church structure was in 1724. The building may have existed prior to this time. According to tradition, the original building was destroyed by fire during the Revolutionary War. The second building was of colonial design. It was raised from the ground so that graves could be placed beneath it.
Church records note an interesting sidelight. The building contained a balcony for the purpose of seating the slave members. In 1853, there were 234 slave members but only 35 white members. After the Civil War, the slaves formed their own church on the corner of Secessionville and Fort Johnson Roads, under the auspices of the Northern Presbyterian Church. We only rejoined with our sister church at reunion of 1983. The churches have retained approximately their relative sizes from 1853. We have roughly 600 members while St. James Presbyterian has over 1,000. They are the largest African-American PC(USA) church in America. Incidentally, the second building was also destroyed, this time during the Civil War. It actually was burned by Confederate troops attempting to thwart the incursion of Union forces.
After the Civil war and the departure of so many members to the Northern denomination, church services were held in private homes. Communion was not served until 1868. On April 4th of that year, a new church was erected: a cypress board whitewashed structure of 20’ by 20’. On April 5th, the Reverend T. H. Law dedicated the new house of worship according to the standards of the Presbyterian Church.
The third building was razed in 1909 to make room for the present gothic style church. The pastor at that time was Reverend Smith. The building was completed and paid for in 1911. In 1939, States Lee Lebby gave the annex for four classrooms. This is now the Church office. In 1949, an educational building northwest of the church was added. In 1954, the sanctuary was enlarged.
The church was remodeled after another fire in 1981, then renovated and expanded in 2000. The present facilities include sanctuary, offices, education building, & Fellowship Hall. We have grown from a small congregation unable to support a pastor into a thriving community for over 600 souls. The church has experienced the trauma of war, hurricane, earthquake, and fire, but has continued to serve God and our fellow man as faithful Disciples of Christ.