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Murray United Methodist Church

Murray United Methodist Church – a 155-year-old congregation in the Jedburg community of Dorchester County – will be able to address the deteriorating foundation of its sanctuary with help from a grant from the Renfro Trust.

The $2,650 award will help pay for a pumping and water diversion system designed to prevent further erosion of the church foundation, which has been brought on by increased residential and business development in the once-rural area northwest of Summerville.

The Renfro Trust Fund awards annual bricks-and-mortar grants to small, rural United Methodist churches in the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, which includes the South Carolina Conference.

The Rev. Lillie Davis has been Murray UMC’s pastor since July 2018.

Rev. Dr. Stevens-Poirel

“We are always most appreciative when one of our local churches is blessed to have been selected as the recipient of an award from the Renfro Trust,” said the Rev. Dr. Sandra Stevens-Poirel, superintendent of the Charleston District of the South Carolina Conference of the UMC. “This support represents a significant partnership and investment in extending the ministry and outreach of The United Methodist Church to areas with limited resources.

“We celebrate this tremendous blessing along with Rev. Davis and the congregation and friends of Murray United Methodist Church. We are grateful that this project is being addressed as it will strengthen the resources and efforts of the church’s mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Rev. Davis

Murray UMC was organized in 1864 – the year before Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union Army marched from Savannah, Georgia, through the South Carolina Lowcountry on his way to taking Columbia near the end of the Civil War. Today, the historically African-American congregation’s membership numbers about 120, with about 80 attending worship services.

Its current sanctuary was dedicated in 1977, a time when the Jedburg community was surrounded by farmland, woods and a few homes. The population explosion of nearby Summerville in the late 1990s and 2000s drove a spike in the construction of homes and businesses in and around the church, which is in the Charleston District of the South Carolina Conference of the UMC.

That development changed the typography, water runoff patterns and water absorption rate around and on the land on which the Murray UMC sanctuary rests – causing runoff water to flood the church property and seep under its foundation.

Much of the deterioration of the church’s foundation is centered on the northeast corner of the building, where the congregation operates “God’s Kitchen,” a weekly food pantry for the community.

In addition to shoring up the foundation, repairs include eradicating termites that have infested the same section of the church and repairing damaged floors and walls. The estimated total cost of the work is about $10,000. The church is covering the remaining cost with fundraisers and donations to its building fund.

Apply for a Renfro Trust grant

  • Renfro Trust Fund grants of up to $5,000 are awarded annually to small churches located in towns, unincorporated communities and rural areas with populations of less than 10,000.
  • Applications from churches in the South Carolina Conference of the UMC must be submitted to the Office of Connectional Ministries, 4908 Colonial Drive, Columbia, SC, 29203.

Annual application deadline: July 31

All Renfro Trust Grant applications from South Carolina churches must be certified – before submission to the Conference Connectional Ministries Office – by the:

  • Church pastor
  • Church council
  • District superintendent

The Conference Board of Global Ministries reviews all applications and certifies those to be submitted for consideration by the Renfro Trust Fund.

About the Renfro Trust

The Renfro Trust Fund was established after Judge William E. Renfro of Orlando, Florida, a Methodist who died in 1957, left his entire $200,000 estate to be administered by the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the UMC for building and maintaining rural churches. He left the bequest as a memorial to his wife, Cora M. Renfro.


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