A Mind to Go Home: A Congregation Healed by Friendship & Faith

December 2018 - Cover Story
by Lisa Cole

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December 2018 - Cover Story

Comfort, nourishment, and belonging—elements that bind people to a physical location are foundations of our notions of home. But if a familiar place is lost, can we ever truly return? What does it mean to go home?

This is the question Wesley United Methodist Church in downtown Columbia wrestled with after 2015’s “Thousand Year Flood” exacerbated structural issues, causing their century-old sanctuary’s walls to warp and ceiling to collapse. Over the next three years, this congregation learned that home is not just confined to pre-built brick walls, but also echoes within the hearts of caring people all around.

Wesley UMC’s history begins in 1869, shortly after the emancipation proclamation. Originally known as the Columbia Mission, it was one of the first independently-founded black congregations in the Midlands. As decades passed, the church honed its ministry by providing both spiritual and physical nourishment to countless families in neighborhoods near the capitol building. In 1910, the congregation settled into their permanent home - a Gothic Revival style sanctuary designed by well-known local architect Arthur W. Hamby at the corner of Barnwell and Gervais. It was this historic building whose ceiling collapsed on that fateful October day.

Cecily Johnson, now 82, is the oldest surviving member of Wesley’s inter-generational congregation.

Why did Christ die for you?   www.whyhedied.org

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