Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians in South Carolina have often disagreed on matters of liturgy and theology and have even competed for members. In many respects, though, their stories have overlapped. In the early 19th century, white Southern Protestants all invariably sought to convert enslaved African Americans while defending the institution of slavery. Their denominations experienced schisms in the mid-19th century—casualties of the acrimonious regional debates over slavery and states’ rights. In the decades following the end of the Civil War, white Southern Protestants all eventually attained a degree of reconciliation with their northern counterparts and busied themselves in support of foreign missions and domestic causes like the prohibition movement.
Protestants in South Carolina have all established schools and supported education to one degree or another. The Baptists established Furman University in Greenville in 1827. The Episcopalians established Holy Communion Church Institute (later Porter Military Academy, now Porter-Gaud School) in Charleston in 1867 and Voorhees Normal and Industrial School (now Voorhees College) in Denmark in 1897. The Methodists established Claflin University in Orangeburg in 1869, Columbia Female College (now Columbia College) in 1854, Textile Industrial Institute (now Spartanburg Methodist College) in 1911, and Wofford College in Spartanburg in 1854.
This digital collection will enable researchers to examine these and other activities of the Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian Churches in South Carolina together as well as separately. In addition to providing insights into the spiritual concerns and rallying causes of their day, the minutes of the annual conferences also contain a wealth of genealogical information on clergy and laypersons.