December 13, 2018 - Abbeville, SC: The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Preservation South Carolina announced today that they will work together to restore the historic worship space at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Abbeville. A true landmark, the church structure was closed for safety reasons due to concerns that the iconic 125-foot steeple may collapse.
Because of the enormous historical significance of the church and the substantial amount of needed restoration, it was listed as one of Preservation SC’s “Places at Risk” in 2018. More information about other endangered properties and the plight of the church can be found here: preservesc.org/places-at-risk-2018
“Trinity, Abbeville, traces its roots to 1842, nearly two decades before this wonderful building was constructed,” said the Rev. Alan Bentrup, Canon for Evangelism and Mission in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. “We are excited about this opportunity to preserve a piece of history, and we look forward to the ways this partnership will allow the congregation to continue doing the work of Jesus in this community.”
Preservation SC has been in discussion with the congregation, diocesan staff, and Friends of Trinity Abbeville, an independent non-profit established to help raise funds for the restoration of the building. Today, the parties signed a 5-year lease agreement to begin the work of rehabilitating, stabilizing, securing, and restoring the church structure in order to give it back to the community.
“Equal to the importance of this church’s place in history, is the importance of this structure to this town in the present,” said Mike Bedenbaugh, Executive Director of Preservation SC. “This community relies heavily on heritage tourism, and the unique details and fascinating history of this church are a huge part of that. The potential loss of this structure as a place of worship and a centerpiece to the town’s economy has weighed heavily and has not gone unnoticed.”
In addition to the congregation and visitors, area business leaders have felt the impact of the closing of the church and hope to see this project revive some of what their community has lost.
“This is an answer to many prayers. The community is ready for the restoration and the reenergization we are sure will follow.” said Paige Bowser, Breezy Quarters, Vice President Downtown Abbeville Merchants Association.
Thanks to the generosity from donations to their rehabilitation fund, Trinity Episcopal Church and the diocese provided more than $700,000 to begin the project. Unfortunately, the sheer magnitude of this mission necessitates much more work than the funds are able to cover. With estimated project costs approaching 2.3 million dollars, the church, the community, and Preservation SC will rely on the support and kindness of others.
Fortunately, in Abbeville, some dedicated citizens have already been working to maintain the church structure and the history within these sacred walls.
“Since 1995, Friends of Trinity Abbeville has been dedicated to supporting the restoration of Trinity Episcopal Church for future generations,” said Ann Waigand, President of Friends of Trinity. “We look forward to working with Preservation SC to attract the funding necessary so that it will live on for another 158 years…and more!”
With a long way to go to meet the financial needs of the project, the organization needs help. If you are unable to donate, please share and spread the message. Without additional donors giving this building and this community a second chance, they will be lost to the pages of history.
“Get in contact with us to find out how you can help,” said Bedenbaugh. “The sacred spaces, like Trinity Episcopal, are worth our time and attention. They are worth our generosity.” Contact Preservation South Carolina, info@PreserveSC.org or call 803-944-9425, and ask how you can be a part of this effort.
Preservation South Carolina is a non-profit organization operating in South Carolina since 1990, dedicated to preserving and protecting the historic places of South Carolina.