Smoaks woman on a mission to preserve historic church | News | The Press and Standard

by | February 14, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: February 10, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Susan Scott is on a mission: preserving her historic church.
Scott has attended Trinity U.M. Church in Smoaks since she was a child. “My mother and her family lived here. My mom was married here. My aunt was married here. It’s just a really dear, special place to me,” she said.
But her love of the building is more than just the family attachment. “It’s such a special structure because it is heart pine and it’s not been altered from its original structure when it was built. It’s also unusual because it has the twin towers, which is not a typical feature in a S.C. church,” Scott said. “And our stained glass window, I think, is one of the most beautiful anywhere. My mother and my aunt planned their weddings for when the sun was shining through that window, because when it does, the yellow just glows gold.”
The church was built in the early 1900s, finished in 1917. Families in the area, including Scott’s family, donated timber for the building. The specifics of the church’s history have been lost through the years, but Scott found an interesting clue in the bell tower.
About eight years ago, after the church was damaged during a hail storm, she got the bucket truck sent to repair the roof to lift her up into the bell tower to clean. There she found an inscription on the bell dated Aug. 7, 1917, along with the name of the woman who donated the bell and her family members. From that, combined with other written histories of the community, she deduced the structure was completed in that time frame.
When she was in the sixth grade, her family moved to Summerville, where she spent most of her adult life as a teacher. She came back to Smoaks on weekends and summer vacations throughout her childhood and returned to attend services at Trinity as an adult.
Scott came back to Smoaks for good when her elderly aunt, who lived in the family homeplace there, became ill. She retired from teaching, moved back home to take care of her aunt and decided to stay. She officially joined Trinity in the 1990s and has served as church treasurer about 13 years.
In the last decade, the upkeep and restoration of Trinity has become her pet project. She has raised funds for a number of improvements, including replacing the glass in the windows, painting and vinyl siding on the church’s exterior and making the repairs after the hail storm.
But her latest project has a more urgent need. About six months ago, the roof developed “a horrible leak that we weren’t aware of for quite a while, because it came from the steeple into the attic and just pooled there,” she said. “Then it started dripping into the sanctuary. And because it’s been such a rainy, rainy year, it has been horrendous.”
Since the problem was discovered, she’s been trying to find someone to repair the roof. But everyone she contacted “said it (the roof) was either too high or too much for one individual or too far out in the country.” Just recently she has found two companies who are willing to bid on the repairs, and she’s hopeful the buckets and garbage cans catching water in the sanctuary will soon be gone.
Of course, that brings up another challenge: money. With a membership of only 25, raising money for such a big project (estimates have ranged from $10,000-$40,000) will be a task. “We have more in the building fund than we normally have, but we don’t normally have a big expense like this,” she said. Fundraising for the building fund has been her priority ever since she took the treasurer’s position, however.
“What I do with my family and friends is say don’t ever give me a gift for my birthday or Christmas or for any reason. Just send a check to Trinity for whatever you’d like,” she said. This past Christmas, her friends gave over $2,000. And the church will gladly accept donations to help with the roof repairs.
Anyone who wants to make a donation can send it to Trinity U.M.C., c/o Susan Scott, Plowden Place, 29335 Lowcountry Hwy., Smoaks, S.C. 29481.
The congregation also welcomes new members and visitors. “Our Christmas candlelight service this year had about 150 people. I just keep thinking that this is such a beautiful, special sanctuary. I don’t expect everyone to come every Sunday. But I just wish some would come 2-3 times a year,” she said. She would really love to see others come and grow to love the church as she has.
“I just have that motto of S.C.: ‘While I breathe, I hope.’ So I just keep hoping.”

By KATRENA McCALL
editor@lowcountry.com

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