For many years, African American worshippers were relegated to the First Presbyterian balcony. Church authorities later permitted them to have a church a few blocks away where they could worship separately under the supervision of the First Presbyterian elders. It became known as Ladson Presbyterian Church, after one of the church’s early pastors.
The church has only a few dozen active members these days, but the congregation is close, and the Sunday services are intimate and joyful gatherings. There is no longer any connection to the original church.
“I don’t know anyone who goes to First Presbyterian,” said Rosena Lucas, 88, a longtime Ladson member. “I’ve never had any interest [in attending].”
Nor has Hemphill Pride, an elder in the Ladson congregation. “I see that church as a stranger, really,” he said. For Pride and other Ladson members, the Thornwell connection still taints the parent church.
“It’s an affront to me,” Pride said. “[To have] buildings named after people who interpreted the Bible in that manner is disrespectful to all Black people.”