Group works to save historic church


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Redeemer Presbyterian Church has just five weeks left complete its campaign for $1.6 million to save historic St. Andrew's Church on Wentworth Street from being sold for residential and business use.

The young congregation, currently leasing the 1838 church, was given just 90 days, until Oct. 31 to match a private offer for the buildings.

Redeemers goals are to continue their downtown ministry and to preserve the beautiful pre-Civil War church for future generations of worshipers. Major changes would be necessary to make the sanctuary into a private home. Future owners could legally alter or remove any part of the historic interior, including the handcrafted balconies, the historic pews and pipe organ, and the unusual fresco of the ascending Christ. Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., City Council members, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have expressed their strong support for Redeemers preservation efforts.

A couple from another denomination, enthusiastic about Redeemers track record of feeding the poor, supporting college ministries, tutoring disadvantaged children, and helping families in need, has offered a personal loan to help finance part of the purchase. It would be a great loss, they said, if this active young congregation leaves downtown Charleston and a173-year-old church is forever lost as a center of service to the community.

Overall, Redeemer members have secured a surprising amount of funding in a short time. In addition to their members sacrificial giving, they've also developed a sustainable business plan that will help repay the mortgage and provide a maintenance fund for the buildings upkeep. Pastor Craig Bailey is excited about the possibilities: A beautiful old church with an eager congregation in a diverse community with a variety of needs - its a winning combination.

At a private Mayors reception this Thursday, Redeemer will announce how much is left to raise of $1.6 million purchase price. The Mayor and Redeemer will appeal to the broader Charleston community to partner with them in saving the beautiful pre-Civil War church. Keeping the fabric of Charleston's historic neighborhoods intact, with churches functioning as centers for worship and community activity, should appeal to many Charleston residents.

Every contribution made to the Holy City Fund through October 31st will support the effort to save historic St. Andrews Church. Contributions can be made to: Preservation Society of Charleston, Holy City Fund, P.O. Box 521, Charleston, SC 29402, or online at

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