This rural church on Wadmalaw Island is the site of a denomination called the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. A pentecostal group, the denomination was founded in 1930 by Sherrod Johnson when he left his previous church, Greater Refuge Temple. The latter church was formed in 1919 in New York. The two churches reconciled following the death of Robert Lawson, the founder of the Greater Refuge Temple, in 1961. Today, the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith is headquartered at the Greater Refuge Temple in Harlem, New York. The church is composed primarily of African-American members and is governed by a Board of Apostles. A tenet of the church is that there is only one holy spirit – God – as opposed to a trinity. This type of belief system is called “oneness pentecostalism.”
The denomination requires women to cover their heads during worship. Though women of the church are not ordained, they still hold various leadership roles in the congregation, particularly in the realm of mission. The church building seen here was built in 1930 and for years operated as a store called Corley’s Grocery Store as well as a residence. One account of the property’s history claims that the owners leased it to the church during the 1980s and 1990s. However, another version states that the building was sold to the church in 1977. The latter account was relayed by a relative of the building’s former owner. Today it sits vacant.
Lowcountry artist Bernadette Cali Leland, who shares her depiction of Mount Zion Church below, says that she remembers when the church was Corley’s Grocery Store. Leland, who lives behind the store, also shares that she and her horses always enjoyed the music sounding from the church on Sunday mornings.
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