Annual fall tour to explore 7 of Charleston’s oldest churches | Features

The houses of worship that populate the peninsula don’t just tell the religious history of the Holy City. They also give insight into Charleston’s broader cultural history, and how the diverse city grew and developed.

Soon, guests will be able to step in these sacred spaces and get a glimpse into the past.

The South Carolina Historical Society’s 2022 Fall Tour will explore seven of Charleston’s architecturally and historically significant churches. The event, held annually, will take place this year 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 12 and invites guests on a self-guided tour of seven sanctuaries from different religious traditions: Circular Congregational, Unitarian Church, French Huguenot Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal, Saint Mary of the Annunciation, Mt. Zion AME and St. Michael’s.

“What we’re hoping this year is people get an appreciation for the history of these congregations and what they contributed to the community,” said SCHS CEO Faye Jensen.

Last year’s tour explored houses of worship in Beaufort. The event was well-received, so continuing that focus in Charleston — which maintains some of the oldest congregations in the nation — just made sense, Jensen said.

The hardest part of the effort was deciding on which churches to feature since there are so many in the city to choose from, she said. Also, several churches were not available for tours due to weddings.

However, the historical society feels religious spaces participating in the fall event help reflect the diversity of faith traditions in the city, though Jensen did acknowledge that Saturday conflicts with the Jewish Sabbath, so a local synagogue was not able to participate in the tour.

There’s also a good representations from different building designs, too, she said.

“We wanted a nice diversity of both congregations and architecture,” Jensen said. “And we are thrilled that’s what we ended up with.”

Among the oldest in the collection of congregations is St. Michael’s. The Broad Street building, constructed between 1751 and 1761, is the oldest surviving religious structure in the city. 

The two-story edifice towers over the city of Charleston, its white steeple populating the skyline. The building was designed to focus people’s attention toward the sky, said the Rev. Al Zadig.

“When people walk into St. Michael’s, they walk into a slice of heaven,” he said. “Being built in the era it was, it is designed to take your eyes from earth to heaven. It’s a very vertical space. People experience the transcendent power of Jesus. Any time we can open it up, we long to do that.”

Docents will be on site at each church to answer questions and speak with guests. Many of the churches are within walking distance of one another or require a short drive. Details about parking will be provided with the mailed tour materials once tickets are purchased.

After the tour of churches, guests are invited to the Fireproof Building at 100 Meeting St. from 2-4 p.m. for refreshments, an opportunity to explore the museum and an exclusive viewing of manuscripts from the society’s collections depicting the state’s religious roots.

Artifacts include tally sheets showing the labor of enslaved persons from St. Michael’s Church records, Denmark Vesey’s entry in the Second Presbyterian records and the 1701 Bible from Strawberry Chapel in St. John’s Berkeley Parrish.

Tickets for SCHS members are $65 per person and $120 per couple. For non-members, tickets are $75 per person and $140 per couple. Tour materials will be mailed to ticket holders ahead of the event.

For more information, visit, or contact Hannah Mooney at or 843-723-3225.

Get a weekly list of tips on pop-ups, last minute tickets and little-known experiences hand-selected by our newsroom in your inbox each Thursday.

Reach Rickey Dennis at 937-4886. Follow him on Twitter @RCDJunior.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *