Ashley Church

Also known as: Edisto Island Baptist Church, New First Missionary Baptist Church
1644 State Highway 174, Edisto Island, SC

Historic African-American church in Edisto Island, SC


Ashley Church

Photo taken by Michael Miller

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This church is historically significant because it was built in 1818 through the efforts of one woman, Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend. The Edisto Baptist Church is especially significant in the area of Black History, because it has operated continuously as a black church since the trustees turned the church over to the faithful black members just after the civil war. The church was given to the blacks by the late Mrs. Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend, whose monument stands behind the church erected March 4, 1987 by her children to her memory. The deed from the late Mrs. Hephzibah Townsend to the Baptist Church is dated March 28, 1828. Most of the members of the church understand that the church has been here at least 192 years or more. Part of the Foundation of the Church is composed of tabby, which appears to have calcinated with age. The tabby foundation indicates that part of the Church has been there since a very early date. The use of tabby is rare in South Carolina. Also significant is the recessed panel slave gallery, which lines both sides of the nave of the church.

The Edisto Baptist Church Story is inspiring in the area of Black History. Since there was no Baptist Church on the island when this one was constructed, the Blacks had to attend churches of their masters. After 1865 when most of the white members of the church had dispersed because of Federal occupation on the island, the Black congregation remained. The Church continued to grow both spiritually and physically with pride. The following ministers have served the present day New First Missionary Baptist Church, formerly known as The Edisto Baptist Church and the Old Ashley Baptist Church. - New First Missionary Baptist Church Website

Update Log 

  • October 29, 2013: Added by Michael Miller


  • Michael Miller - michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com