Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church Celebrates 100 Years on Hilton Head Island

The Rev. Ben Williams of Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in his office with a 1988 article in The Beaufort Gazette about the Lincoln Town Car given to him by boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard worshiped at Mount Calvary while training on Hilton Head Island. DAVID LAUDERDALE
The Rev. Ben Williams of Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in his office with a 1988 article in The Beaufort Gazette about the Lincoln Town Car given to him by boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard worshiped at Mount Calvary while training on Hilton Head Island. DAVID LAUDERDALE

Members of the Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church will turn in their Bibles to Psalm 84:11 as the church celebrates 100 years on Hilton Head Island.

A nine-day commemoration will begin Saturday night with a banquet and continue all next week with nightly services and other events.

The small, white church building with orange, blue and white window panes hugs a busy Squire Pope Road, across the street from waterfront restaurants never dreamed of in 1914.

But still, it is into these Skull Creek waters that the Rev. Ben Williams takes a staff in hand and leads white-robed members of his flock into traditional baptisms.

The scene was captured in the December 1987 National Geographic magazine article: “Sea Change in the Sea Islands: ‘Nowhere to Lay Down Weary Head.’ ”

It documented development’s assault on the old African and Gullah ways.

Older members of the church remember when children had to seek God’s presence in the wilderness and explain it to deacons before being accepted into the church. They recall special anniversary church meetings on a quiet island being more colorful than Broadway. They can hear the clapping and singing in weeknight praise house meetings. They say it still hurts to think about kneeling on the “mourner’s bench” at the altar. They remember strict deacons, bountiful meals, and marsh tackeys hitched outside. They hum when remembering Deacon Sonny Brown lining out the hymn, “Oh, Why Not Tonight?”

But other things never change, said the pastor they affectionately call “The Rev.”

“The main focus is to keep all these people together for a common cause and purpose,” Williams said. “People need to understand the importance of believing and trusting in God.”

Source: The Island Packet | DAVID LAUDERDALE – [email protected]