By NANCY CZABALA
ORANGEBURG — Last weekend saw the opening of a new $500,000 church in Orangeburg, which has come to stand through the support of groups nationwide. Amid the racially instigated church burnings in 1995 and 1996, Butler Chapel AME was razed accidentally, in reports from the police, by kids who were playing inside. Nonetheless, many people lost their place of worship and were greatly affected.
“Having your church burn down is devastating; it’s like a death,” said Rev. Patrick Mellerson, pastor of Butler Chapel.
The tragedy, however, managed
to shed some good in the community. It brought together people of all denominations and race who sought to help rebuild the church. Since
its destruction March 31, 1996, donations thrived locally as well
Holy Trinity Church in Orangeburg pooled its resources and its parishioners to support its neighboring church. Father Michael Polewczak
in his sermon at the Friday dedication ceremony, which was part of
the three-day celebration of the opening of the new church, said, “With this event we are overcoming not just bricks and mortar, but we are working together to build the kingdom of God. We are working to overcome racism and religious
Father Polewczak said Butler Chapel has offered a tremendous response to Holy Trinity as well as to all their supporters. Father Polewczak said the bond of fellowship that has been forged between everyone involved will go beyond current activities and continue to grow.
Donations received by the Diocese of Charleston were presented to Butler Chapel by Holy Trinity Church, who has been involved in fund raising efforts, both directly and indirectly. Holy Trinity raised $1,300 for Butler Chapel from fund raising efforts and donations. Other donations received by the diocese for Butler Chapel included: $10,000 from Cardinal John O’Connor from the Archdiocese of New York, $2,000 from Archbishop William Levada of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and $20,000 from the Black and Indian Mission Offices from the Diocese of Syracuse.