Part 1: Early History
Written by Billie Faye Harvey
The Holy Spirit swept over the community of Central, South Carolina , in a spectacular way in the late summer of 1917. A tent was set up by the “Texas Band” – an evangelistic group led by Rev. C.E. Toney. Conversions took place in unusual places – even the Isaqueena Mill actually shut down operations so that people could pray for salvation right on the job!
The result of this revival was the organization of the Isaqueena Wesleyan Methodist Church – later to be named Central Second Wesleyan Methodist Church – in early fall of 1917. Fifty-four charter members made up the new congregation organized by Dr. L.G. Clayton, a medical doctor and an ordained elder of the South Carolina Conference.
After the organization, a place for worship was the paramount need. For more than a year a store building on Highway 18 in Central was used as the first meeting place. Rev. J.R. George was the first pastor, followed by Rev. C.E. Toney, who was responsible for purchasing a lot on the corner of College and Taylor Streets. The Isaqueena Mill contributed $1,500, and in 1919 a church building was erected on this property – a wooden structure which was used with no major changes for 25 years!
In 1920, the next pastor, Rev. R. C. Kendrick, purchased another lot diagonally across from the church, and a six-room parsonage was built. Again, the local mill contributed 50% of the building costs. Pastors following Rev. Kendrick were: R.H. & Oneida Gleason, L.H. Kelley, J.R. Garrett, J.R. George, F. B. Williams, J.D. Scoggins and V.A. Mitchell. During Rev. Mitchell’s tenure, an annex for Sunday School rooms was added to the church.
Succeeding pastors were: R.C. Kendrick, E.L. Shigley, Jr., E.L. Gunby, W.D. James (during his term the indebtedness was eliminated, and a new annex was made possible), Paul Eger, Malcolm Ellis , A.W. Padgett, Paul L. Wilcox, and Joseph W. Seaborn. Early missionaries sent out by the church were Ruth Kelley Argo Jarrard and Marie Evatt, followed by others in missionary and other full-time Christian service in years to come. A strong missionary emphasis has continued to be a hallmark of Trinity.
Part 2: Immediate Past (1976-1994)
In June 1976, following nine years of missionary work in Sierra Leone, West Africa, Rev. James Wiggins began an 18-year span as pastor of Trinity Wesleyan Church . With his wife, Lois, and four children, the Wiggins family endeared themselves not only to the church family, but to the community as well. Rev. Wiggins was a warm, caring pastor, shepherding his flock with dedication, faithfulness, and love. Growth and outreach increased. Active youth programs, children’s ministries, men and women’s missions groups, and others soon made it evident by 1982 that the church building and facilities were extremely inadequate.
A decision was made in 1983 to sell the church property at College and Taylor Streets, relocate, and build a new edifice. At this time the church name was changed from Central Second to Trinity Wesleyan Church . A site was selected on Issaqueena Trail at the southwest edge of Central toward Clemson and Pendleton. An initial purchase of five acres was made and later three additional acres were acquired. The Groundbreaking Service was on May 19, 1985.
A new worship center of almost 13,000 square feet having a sanctuary with seating capacity of 450, plus 22 classrooms and offices was constructed during 1985-1986. A group of 120 members, along with many friends, began a period of prayer and giving. The church building with equipment and furnishings cost $462,000. The dedication service was March 30, 1986. The former church property on College Street was sold to the White Oak Springs Baptist congregation.
In 1984 Dr. David Rhyne joined Pastor Wiggins as Assistant Pastor. He and his wife, Betty, and their two children were a great encouragement and boost to the entire church. Dr. Rhyne supported loyally in the spiritual life and growth, as well as the edification of the congregation. His preaching ministry was deep and soul-searching and touched all who heard him. He had a true heart for the Lord and for the church, and carried a heavy burden for others.tant Pastor. He and his wife, Betty, and their two children were a great encouragement and boost to the entire church. Dr. Rhyne supported loyally in the spiritual life and growth, as well as the edification of the congregation. His preaching ministry was deep and soul-searching and touched all who heard him. He had a true heart for the Lord and for the church, and carried a heavy burden for others.
In August 1994, Rev. Wiggins was elected District Superintendent of the Georgia District of The Wesleyan Church, and he accepted the call. The same month, Dr. Rhyne suddenly went to Heaven following a massive heart attack. The church family had immediately turned to him to serve as Interim Pastor following Rev. Wiggins’ departure, and his untimely death was a great and sad loss.
However, the people soon rallied to stand together and face the future with confidence in God’s perfect purposes for Trinity Church. Associate Pastor Rev. David Cornwell was named Interim Senior Pastor and Rev. W.D. James as Interim Minister of Pastoral Care. Rev. Dale Link continued as Minister to Children, Gary Mosley as Minister of Music, and Beth Swank as Church Secretary. Lay Leader Dan Groves served as Worship Leader. The work of the Lord at Trinity Wesleyan Church continued to go forward with hope and courage.
Part 3: The Continued Past (1986-1997)
In October 1993, Lay Leader Dan Groves headed up an ambitious debt-elimination campaign, entitled “Removing the Wall.” It was a 15-month plan to pay off the $170,000 that was owed on the church building, so the church could be debt-free. With strong faith, prayer, sacrificial giving, and hard work, the 15-year mortgage with Wesleyan Investment Foundation was paid off in March of 1995 – five years early! To God be the Glory. Mrs. Betty Rhyne, David and Chanda gave a $20,000 gift in memory of Dr. David Rhyne to help pay off the mortgage. There was a victorious mortgage-burning ceremony in the sanctuary on April 14, 1996.
Rev. James M. Capps began as the new pastor January 1, 1995. He and his wife, Phyllis, immediately became a very dear part of the Trinity family. Rev. Capps was an excellent pastor, an expositor of the Word, a fervent preacher, and a thorough teacher of the Scriptures. He also had unusual administrative skills and approached his work with dedication and energy.
Plans began for a building program for a Family Life Center , as the ministries of the church were being hindered by lack of space. The challenge of such a gigantic endeavor so soon after paying off a heavy church mortgage seemed insurmountable, but the congregation and Rev. Capps accepted it with grace and enthusiasm. The ground-breaking service occurred on June 23, 1996. The building was to be built at the back left of the church, diagonally from the northeast corner. God had already made the plans and chosen the man to be the general contractor for the work.
Glenn and Barbara Cole had recently moved to Central from LaGrange, Georgia , so that Glenn could attend Southern Wesleyan University to take religion courses in preparation for any Christian ministry God might have available for him. Having a lifetime of all phases of building experience, he was the right man. The Coles felt, too, that this is what God wanted them to do, and so, Glenn postponed his educational plans to build the Family Life Center.
Several men also contributed hours of manual labor working with Glenn: in particular, E.B. Thomas, Irby Pelfrey, A.C. Clemens, as well as Pastor Capps. Many others worked when they were able, and the ladies of the church provided nourishing and delicious meals for the workers every noon. All of this greatly contributed to the tremendous task, and God blessed and protected. We praise Him for it all.
Actual construction began in April 1996 on the 18,125 square-foot building. Estimated costs are $500,000 on a building valued at approximately $850,000. The church borrowed $450,000 from the Wesleyan Investment Foundation. A new fund-raising campaign was started May 1997 with a goal of $75,000.
Part 4: Trinity Wesleyan Church (1997-today)
Written by Martha Evatt
With the beginning of the eighty-first year of Trinity Wesleyan Church the building of the Family Life Center was well underway. The groundbreaking had taken place June 23, 1996. Under the leadership of Rev. James M. Capps the building was largely constructed by volunteers, headed by Glenn Cole, assisted by E.B. Thomas, Irby Pelfrey, and others, including the pastor. Thousands of hours of donated labor resulted in a commodious useful building with a full-size gym, modern kitchen, classrooms and library/parlor. It was dedicated on October 25, 1998.
Rev. Capps resigned in 1999 and was followed by Rev. James Brown who served until 2001. The assistant pastor with congregational care responsibilities was Rev. W.D. James who became the interim pastor until November when Rev. James Ramsay assumed the pastorate through early 2006.
For most of these years Rev. Dale Link, assisted by his wife Sheryl, has effectively ministered to the children. Rev. and Mrs. Raymond Phaup became a part of the church around 2002 and served in several capacities: Mary Ann as office secretary and Raymond as music director. He became interim pastor in 2006. During the last 4 years Gary Mosley has been the full-time Youth Director ,assisted by his wife Martha, and more recently also Music Director/Worship leader. The church has been signally blessed by having staff and laypersons who could fill needs very ably.
In 2006 the church called Rev. Donald Milstead from Brevard, North Carolina to begin pastoral service at Trinity. He and his wife Carol have served the North Carolina West District for many years. God has blessed his pastoral ministry and his work on Southern Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and various district and general church committees. Carol serves as church organist and church secretary.
Trinity Wesleyan has many generous, faithful people. God has enabled the church to pay off all indebtedness in record times, first the church building, then the Family Life Center . The mortgage burning was October 27, 2002. During the past year payment was completed on a 15- year loan of $45,000, which was taken in 2004 for major maintenance needs. Being completely debt free helps to allow the church give its focus to its purpose of “Embracing the Seeker, Equipping the Believer and Engaging the Culture.”
At the same time the church has not lost its vision of the world’s evangelistic needs and for others nearby. In the entire North American Wesleyan Church we are 29th in per capita giving for world missions and 46th in the “100 Giving Churches”. In the Spring of 2007 the entire revival offering was donated to a nearby small local church. The goal for 2007-2008 in Faith Promise giving is $35,000.
To God Be The Glory!