The History Of Francis Burns United Methodist Church
In the fall of 1961, a survey was initiated by the Reverend I. Dequincy Newman, Field Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and an active member of the SC Conference of the Methodist Church, along with the Board of Missions of Wesley United Methodist Church to determine the need for a new church in the Northeast section of Columbia, SC. With approval of the Board of Missions and other Methodist churches, our first worship service was held on January 14, 1962 at the Fairwold Elementary School in Columbia.
In February 1962, our chartering ceremony was conducted by our District Superintendent, Rev. William M. Stokes and Rev F. G. Dubois, Pastor of Wesley Church where the ceremony was held. The chartering members of the church were Rev. I. Dequincy Newman, Mrs. Ann Newman, Mr. John Gass, Mrs. Sarah Gass, Morris Newman, Mrs. Emma Abel, Kevin Abel, Miss Elizabeth McMickle, Mr. Stanley Marshall, Mrs. Verdella Marshall, Mrs. Margaret McNeely, Mrs. Ola Wakefield, Mrs. Bernice Chess, Mrs. Surleaner Murray, Mrs. Olivia Naudin, Mrs. Olivia Moore, Mrs. Elizabeth Moore, Rev. Alonzo Harley, Mrs. Leslie Woods, John Gass, Jr., Gregory Gass, Mr. Theodore Murray, and Willie Lee Murray.
The name Francis Burns United Methodist Church was designated to honor, venerate, and perpetuate the name of the first Negro to be elevated to the episcopacy of the Methodist Church. Reverend Francis Burns, a native of Albany, and a highly cultivated, dedicated minister of the gospel, was elected Bishop in 1805. Additionally, he served in Liberia, West Africa on a mission conference.
Our first elected officers were Mr. John Gass, Sr., Mrs. Emma Abel, Mrs. Ann P. Newman, Judge Matthew Perry, Ms Elizabeth McMickle, Mrs. Sarah Gass and Mrs. Margaret McNeely. Members of the Trustee Board were Mr. Joseph Hope, Mr. Claude McCollom and Mr. Vernon Spells, all members of Wesley Church in Columbia, SC.
Until the site at the corner of Koon and Ames Road was purchased in February 1963, worship services were held at the homes of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Gass and Reverend and Mrs. I Dequincy Newman. On April 7, 1963, a formal opening service was held at a house on the site. From the time of conception until May 1964, Reverend Newman served as pastor of Francis Burns United Methodist Church. At that time, Rev. Samuel Gadsden was appointed as pastor. It was under his leadership that our edifice was built and a formal dedication was held October 2, 1966. Ten years later, on May 30, 1976, Rev William M. Stokes was appointed and served until his death in July 1983. Rev. H. Samuel Johnson served as interim pastor until the appointment of Rev. Edward H. McDowell, Jr. in October of 1983.
Just as with past ministers, and with Rev. McDowell, our church continued to grow spiritually and physically. During the late 1980's and early 1990's, we prayed, formulated a strategy, and planned for a new church building. Ground was broken at 5616 Farrow Road in 1992; and construction began in early 1993 with completion in 1994. On January 16, 1994, we made our pilgrimage from the Ames Road church building to our new and beautiful edifice for our inaugural worship service at 5616 Farrow Road..
Now, our church home – still considered new to us – has allowed us tremendous growth in our programs and ministries. Namely, we are especially proud of our former Child Development Center named in memory of our beloved young member, Ashley H. Humphrey, daughter of Dr. Albert and Sheila Humphrey. The Ashley E. Humphrey wing is now host to our Bible Study classrooms, Children’s Church Ministry, “Our Circle of Healing” Prayer and Meeting Room, and the Burns Library.