First Baptist Church of Awendaw
When Mike first visited First Baptist Church of Awendaw, he didn’t plan to become the interim pastor. He was the bookkeeper for the local Association and offered to help with the teaching while the church conducted a search for a new pastor. When the church council asked him to consider serving there bi-vocationally, Mike knew it would be a challenge leading the rural church forward.
Over the years FBC Awendaw had earned a reputation that prevented the church from being a gospel witness in the small community of 1,500 people outside Charleston. Personalities dominated the church’s fifty-year history from both the pulpit and the pews. When Mike accepted the position as interim pastor, he knew that the church was dying. Attendance had averaged between sixteen and twenty when he first became a member. As he looked around the room four years later, the pastor saw eight seats filled for a Sunday service. If anything happened to those remaining members, FBC Awendaw would die.
In that last year, the health of the congregation and the condition of the building demanded more and more of his time. What was on paper a part-time position had now turned into a full-time effort to keep the church alive. Mike reached out for help. He met with Craig, the State Convention’s regional catalyst, to discuss options for the church moving forward. Soon afterward the two were at a table with three pastors from Mt. Pleasant — all men who had served in the church that planted FBC Awendaw two generations earlier.
The outcome of the meeting was a decision that would likely be met with opposition from the congregation: FBC Awendaw needed to close its doors and start over. Each of the men agreed that giving the building to a church plant was the pathway forward.
The Church at Sewee Bay
Shortly after the decision to close the doors to FBC Awendaw, Mike presented the proposal to the church. The congregation voted to officially disband, turning over all of its assets with the agreement that it be used to plant a new work. FBC Mt. Pleasant now held the keys and deed to the church they had sponsored to plant fifty years earlier.
In order to plant a church in that space, FBC Mt. Pleasant would need to invest $90,000 of its missions fund towards renovating the building. The construction would be overseen by the church’s new pastor, Chris. He had been called, mentored, and trained by the pastor of FBC Mt. Pleasant while in seminary. Now surrounded by a core group of families from one of the church’s previous plants, the pathway forward in that community was the Church at Sewee Bay.
The church relaunched on Palm Sunday with the help of a team of coaches. From the beginning, Sewee Bay existed to reach those in the rural community around them. That Fourth of July the church partnered with an African American congregation to host a party open to the town. More than 500 people set foot on the church’s property and learned that the Church at Sewee Bay was a place for the community. Later that summer eight new believers were baptized. By planting a new church God’s glory was seen in that town once more.