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 A Timeline of Methodist History
in South Carolina

South Carolina Events National and World Events

1737 - John Wesley visits the South Carolina Lowcountry 
1738 - George Whitfield makes first visit to South Carolina, establishes societies

1738 - John Wesley's Aldersgate experience
1784 - Methodists begin to move into South Carolina, some from England and Ireland, others from Virginia, societies form in the Upcountry
1785 - First visit of Bishop Asbury (annual visits until 1816), first appointments of preachers in Charleston and Georgetown, four circuits created (Charleston, Pee Dee, Santee, Broad River); vigorous evangelization of African-Americans

1775-1783 - American Revolution
December 1784 - Christmas Conference in Baltimore begins the Methodist Episcopal Church in America; Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke elected bishops

1787 - first meeting of an Annual Conference in South Carolina
1791 - Primitive Methodist Schism (William Hammett)
1787 - Delegates write the U. S. Constitution in Philadelphia

1795 - Mount Bethel Academy opens in Newberry, first Methodist school in South Carolina

1796 - South Carolina Conference established

1800 - Anti-Slavery Address adopted by General Conference

1800 - Camp meeting movement begins nationally

1800 - Methodist society membership in South Carolina includes 3399 white and 1283 black members in 10 circuits 1800 - Membership in Methodist societies in the United States reaches 64,000, with 13,000 of those being black members. 
1802 - camp meeting movement spreads into South Carolina 1804 - Two Disciplines published over the issue of slavery

 

 

1812 - first General Conference composed of delegates from the Annual Conferences rather than of all conference members

1829 - missions to slaves on plantations established

1837 - Southern Christian Advocate begins publication on June 24 in Charleston

1830 - Methodist Protestant Church organized

1846 - William Capers elected bishop; first South Carolina native elected to the episcopacy

1848 - First South Carolina missionaries travel to China - Charles Taylor and Benjamin Jenkins

1844 - Methodist Episcopal Church splits over the issue of slavery
1846 - Methodist Episcopal Church, South organized in Louisville, KY

1854 - Wofford College opens in Spartanburg after a bequest from Methodist minister Benjamin Wofford.  That same year, Columbia Female College is approved by the conference.  Other women's colleges open in the late 1850s in Spartanburg and in Lenoir, NC.

1856 - South Carolina Conference Historical Society established

 
  1861-1865 - American Civil War

1862 - first Northern missionary among Black Carolinians - T. Willard Lewis; Alonzo Webster comes in 1865.

1866 - South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (the northern branch of Methodism) established

1865-1877 - Reconstruction

1869 - Claflin University opens in Orangeburg

1873 - Williamston Female College opens under the leadership of Rev. Samuel Lander, later moves to Greenwood and becomes Lander College.

 

1878 - South Carolina Conference Missionary Society established

1880 - Thomas B. Jeter becomes the first South Carolina Methodist to serve as governor

1896 - Epworth Orphanage opens in Columbia

Temperance movement, revivalism, holiness movement begins

Rapid growth of the textile industry in South Carolina and in the South

1911 - Textile Industrial Institute opens in Spartanburg, later becomes Spartanburg Methodist College Progressive Era
1914 - South Carolina conference divided, Upper South Carolina Conference meets for the first time in 1915.   
 

1939 - The Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Methodist Protestant Church reunify, creating The Methodist Church.

1940 - First meeting of Jurisdictional Conferences

1948 - The Upper South Carolina Conference and South Carolina Conference merge into the South Carolina Conference

1948 - The Southern Christian Advocate becomes the South Carolina Methodist Advocate

 
1951 - The South Carolina Christian Action Council is formed 1950s and 1960s - the Civil Rights Movement
1960 - The Columbia Area is created; Paul Hardin Jr. becomes the first bishop of the South Carolina Conference to serve exclusively in South Carolina.  He serves until 1972 1956 - General Conference approves full clergy rights for women
1964 - James Thomas becomes the first black South Carolinian to be elected a bishop

1968 - The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren join to form The United Methodist Church

Segregated Central Jurisdiction is abolished

1972 - The historically white South Carolina Conference (1785) and historically black South Carolina Conferece (1866) merge; Edward Tullis becomes bishop.

 

1980 - Roy C. Clark becomes bishop

1988 - Joseph B. Bethea becomes the first African-American to serve as bishop of the South Carolina Conference

1996 - J. Lawrence McCleskey becomes bishop

2004 - Mary Virginia Taylor becomes the first woman to serve as bishop of the South Carolina Conference

 

Prepared by Dr. A. V. Huff, historian of the South Carolina Conference, with additions by Dr. Phillip Stone, conference archivist