Center Methodist Church – Oakway, South Carolina

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Center Methodist Church in the Oconee County community of Oakway was formed in 1836, and its location originally served as a camp meeting site. Rather than traveling to a church in the closest town, members would gather outdoors at a “camp” and listen to sermons preached by itinerant Methodist ministers traveling on their routes known as circuits. Center Methodist was the only congregation on the Pickens Circuit.

Center Church

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2004 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Around 1870 this meeting house was built, which increased the popularity of the church for Oakway residents and other nearby Methodists. The church remained on a preaching circuit, however, and by 1878 Center Methodist had been shifted to the Townville Circuit. By the 1930s Center Methodist Church had diminished in membership, as many parishioners opted to join a congregation in Townville. As a result, Center Methodist closed.

Center Methodist Church

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2004 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

According to twin sisters Thelma and Zelma Mason, who were born in 1915 and grew up across the street from Center Methodist, a tent revival was held in Oakway some time in the 1930s that they suspect pulled membership away from Center. With only a church reunion held in 1944, Center Methodist became a vacant building with no congregation to care for it.

Center Church Oakway

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2004 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Fortunately for the one-room building, the Mason sisters donated their time and money to the upkeep of the church to the best of their abilities. Their efforts paid off; in 2009 the United Methodist Conference of South Carolina donated the building to the Oconee Heritage Center, which intends to restore the building and use it for interpretive purposes. The fundraising attempts by the sisters not only kept the building reasonably preserved, but also drew attention to a church that was significant in the religious history of Oconee County.

Center Church Oconee County

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2004 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Center Methodist Church will open its doors for a Christmas worship service in 2013.

Center Methodist Church Info

Address: 6645 West Oak Highway, Oakway, SC 29693

Center Methodist Church Map

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