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Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church Announces 200th Anniversary Events



On the heels of the three-year commemoration of the Emanuel 9 tragedy, Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church today announced five planned events to celebrate the church’s historic 200th anniversary.

“We could not help but celebrate this bicentennial of the founding of this church with glory and praise,” Reverend Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of MotherEmanuel A.M.E Church said. “We have persisted in the face of racial hostility, survived the burning of the church to the ground in 1822; its destruction in an earthquake in 1886; and the horrific murders of nine members of the congregation on June 17, 2015.”

As the 200th anniversary approaches, Mother Emanuel continues to open its doors as it has for decades to welcome all individuals to join them in worship and become more unified in the church’s service to mankind and each other.

“While we celebrate our history each year in July, we feel particularly compelled this year to condemn terrorist acts against people of color and be the place where others may engage in dialogue about achieving racial reconciliation once and for all,” Rev. Manning said.

The church invites the public to attend the following events:

  • July 11th at 6:30 pm – Revival Service at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church, 110 Calhoun St.
    • A special service with guest preacher Rev. Justin J. Gamble, pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Georgetown, SC. Reverend Justin J. Gamble was born in Marion County, South Carolina and a member of the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in the Penderboro Community of Marion County. He was licensed to preach in 2007, at the age of 15, and ordained in 2011 upon the request of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Georgetown, where he presently serves as the Senior Lead Servant. Gamble graduated from Marion High School in 2009 with honors. He completed studies at the former Cathedral Bible College, Myrtle Beach, and Morris College School of Religion Extension Program in Conway and Morris College in Sumter. He is currently a student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. through its online program majoring in Christian Ministry with an emphasis on Church Leadership.
  • July 12th at 6:30 pm – Revival Service at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church
    • The guest preacher for this evening will be Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, SC. Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, is also Vice President of Religious Affairs and External Relations for the National Action Network (with offices in New York and Washington, DC).  Rev. Rivers is a preacher of the gospel, a civil rights professional, and community organizer. He has served as a guest preacher at churches in 23 states from Florida to California and Hawaii. He received his bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. Rivers was ordained at the Olivet Baptist Church of Christ in Fayetteville, GA by the late Dr. Howard W. Creecy, Sr. He is pursuing his Master of Divinity at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, SC. Rev. Rivers is co-president of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) and was a founding member of the organization in 2011. CAJM is an inter-faith, inter-religious group of 25 congregations in the Charleston area committed to congregational work for justice to address the root causes of poverty and injustice, through the empowerment of marginalized people.
  • July 13th at 7 pm – Anniversary Banquet at The Francis Marion Hotel
    • For reservations, contact Sylvia Blake at 843-722-2561 or e-mail Tickets are $50. Entertainment will be provided by the Seabreeze Band and Show (Howard and Carolyn Brown).
  • July 15th at 9:30 am  200th Anniversary Worship Service at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church
    • Rt. Rev. Dr. John R. Bryant, a retired bishop of the A.M.E. Church, will be the guest preacher. Bishop John Richard Bryant was Senior Bishop and Presiding Prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. Bishop Bryant was elected and consecrated the 106th Bishop of the A.M.E. Church at the 1988 General Conference in Fort Worth, TX. Bishop Bryant received his B.A. in 1965 from Morgan State University, a Master of Theology in 1970 from the Boston University School of Theology and was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellow receiving his Doctor of Ministry from the Colgate Rochester Divinity School in 1975. Bishop Bryant has pastored three churches: Bethel A.M.E Church, Fall River, MA, St. Paul A.M.E Church, Cambridge, MA, and Bethel A.M.E Church in Baltimore, MD.
  • July 15th at 12:30 pm, Emanuel 9 Memorial Design Reveal by Architect Michael Arad at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church
    • Michael Arad creates designs that bring people of diverse backgrounds together. He is a partner with Handel Architects in New York. Prior to winning the international design competition for the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center in New York in 2003, Arad worked as an architect with the New York Housing Authority. His design, sketched in the raw, was one anonymous entry out of 5,200 submitted from people from 63 countries, but it impressed the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with its powerful and austere eloquence. “Reflecting Absence” (the title of the memorial) used simple elements of water, trees and open space to convey the incomprehensible voids left after the terrorist attack, while also expressing peace, comfort and hope. The time, care and attention he and his team, including landscape architect Peter Walker, gave to the concerns and wishes of the families of 3,000 plus victims, was an instrumental part of his process. Arad earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH in 1994 and a master’s degree in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA in 1999. Arad has received awards from the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. He is an Israeli native and grew up in Israel, England, the United States and Mexico

About Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church

The roots of Mother Emanuel run deep in Charleston and its history is one of perseverance in the face of racial hostility. The church is affectionately called Mother Emanuel because it is the oldest A.M.E. church south of Baltimore.

The congregation first formed in 1791, a coalition of free blacks and slaves. In 1818, the church joined the A.M.E. connection. In 1822, the church was burned to the ground, after plans for a slave revolt were exposed. The congregation rebuilt the church and met there until 1834 — when all-black churches were outlawed by the state legislature. Undeterred, members continued to meet in secret until the end of the Civil War in 1865, when they formally reorganized.

They adopted the name ‘Emanuel,’ meaning “God with us.” At the time, the church was a wooden two-story structure, and was destroyed in an earthquake in 1886. Once again, it was rebuilt. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Mother Emanuel was the location for many of the meetings held by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.  Today, we continue to be a church with a national and international reputation for forgiveness and grace.

With seating for 1,200, MotherEmanuel has the largest seating capacity of any African-American church in Charleston. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

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