Orangeburg community celebrates mission’s success

by Kathy Schmugge

ORANGEBURG — The ten-year anniversary celebration of Holy Trinity Church in Orangeburg was not just about celebrating the joy of a new building of worship; it was also a time to rejoice about the enduring faith of this church community.

“The people of Holy Trinity have a depth of faith that has allowed them to be guided by the Holy Spirit from the time the church was a mission to the present day. We celebrate the individual talents and gifts which together have allowed us to thrive,” said Father Mike Polewczak, who has been pastor for almost seven years.

Holy Trinity’s past includes moments of great courage. While some other faith communities resisted desegregation in the 1960s, Holy Trinity and Christ Our King (the former mission), blazed a trail by being one of the first integrated churches in South Carolina at a time of racial unrest.

Sam Alston, who has been a parishioner “forever,” remembers when the two churches united.

“This anniversary marks a day of cleansing and healing for me as I have witnessed spirits and minds coming together,” he said. “We proved then and prove today that we are a universal church because we don’t just talk it, we live it.”

Celebrant Bishop Robert J. Baker recapped some of the historical highlights of this church with its roots extending back 200 years. He praised all of the people who “labored well” and successfully “proclaimed God’s great deeds for them and for the world.”

The bishop described the day’s gathering as an opportunity to continue that tradition of glorifying God and described how it can be perpetuated today.

“We first begin through prayer, the sacramental life, reflecting on the Scriptures, and studying our faith to grasp what God has done for us.

Then we, like our ancestors in the faith, and those who have gone before us in serving others here in Orangeburg, we begin to proclaim what God has done for us.”

For Innocent and Francisca Onu, who moved from Nigeria about 12 years ago, this day will not be forgotten. In Nigeria, it is rare to be able to see the bishop and when he comes to a village, people travel great distances to be a part of the celebration.

“It is such an honor to be here,” said Mrs. Onu.

Parishioners took the time to share the many things they love about the church and its tightly knit community. Longtime member Ron Huber remembered how the pastor who built the new church, Father Don Lindsay, was most concerned with building a sanctuary that would be conducive to prayer and how this desire become a reality for those who remember when Mass was said in a school hall.

Lewie Roache, who was a co-chair for the building committee, said the architectural design was “glorious.” He remembered how wonderful it was to work with the architect, John Boudreaux from Columbia, who put their vision on paper.

Norma and Vic Barry, who came to the parish in 1968, reflected on the ten-year anniversary as the ” fulfillment of a dream that so many people had prayed would come true.”

They also mentioned how the church was blessed to have parishioners like the late John and Alice McFetres who paid off the debt of the church and donated their own home for the rectory. This couple along with Howard Herman and many others witnessed to Christ during their entire life times.

Frank Tourville, owner of the Tourville Lodge on Buck Ridge Plantation and host of the anniversary reception, also had fond memories of the church.

“My granddaughter Jordan was the first child baptized in the new church,” said Tourville. “We love our community and we love Father Mike who brings everyone together and does so much for all of us.”

Geneva Roache, who was a member of Christ the King before it united with Holy Trinity, is already looking forward to tomorrow.

“I live with hope that good things will happen in our future,” said Roache. “I am proud of my parish.”