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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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ME: Dr. McCardell, you’re a lifelong Episcopalian, a scholar of the American South, and the new Vice Chancellor of Sewanee, a university founded in the mid 19th century by the Episcopal Church. You also have a second home here in Beaufort, where you attend the Parish Church of St. Helena when you’re in town. It’s an understatement to say you seem uniquely qualified to talk about the history of the Church here in Beaufort. Your first lecture will focus on St. Helena’s Parish – founded in 1712 – during the Colonial period. Is there anything you can tell our readers about the church during this era that might whet their appetite to learn more?
JM: Where to begin?! This is, above all, a story of courage and faithfulness through good times and bad, and a story of perseverance in the faith often at moments of extraordinary external challenge.
Beaufort, founded in 1711, as many of your readers know, is the second oldest town in South Carolina. Under the terms of the Church Act of 1706, Anglican parishes in South Carolina were to be the units of government as well as centers of worship. Thus, within a year, by 1712, the Anglican Parish of St. Helena was created to serve this dual purpose for Beaufort and the Sea Islands. The Vestry of St. Helena's thus had broad powers to tax, to hold elections, for example, as well as to conduct regular worship services.
The Rev. William Guy served as the first minister at St. Helena's. Technically he was a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The assignment to this, "the most remote Parish in the country," as he described it, posed considerable challenges. In his first report back to the SPG in 1714, Rev. Guy noted that he had fourteen communicants, while there were also "several dissenters" in Beaufort. "As to the heathen and Infidels," he added, "the number being in my Parish are 270."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Education * South Carolina * Theology
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