In 1957 the United Church of Christ was established through the union of Congregational Christian churches and congregations of the German Reformed tradition. Churches that called themselves Congregational were organized in America when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation (1620) and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1630) acknowledged their unity in the Cambridge Platform of 1648.
Congregational churches were established during the colonial period throughout the South Carolina lowcountry. The Congregational Meeting House in Charleston (later known as the Circular Congregational Church) included some of the city’s wealthiest and most influential citizens, such as Miles Brewton, Josiah Smith, Daniel DeSaussure, Solomon Legarè, and Henry Perroneau. South Carolina Congregationalists overwhelmingly supported the patriot side during the Revolutionary War. During the antebellum period, the Congregationalists became more closely tied to Presbyterian congregations. Circular Congregational at that time had a particularly powerful association of political leaders including U.S. Senator Robert Young Hayne, U.S. Congressman Henry Laurens Pinckney, and U.S. Secretary of State Hugh Swinton Legarè.
After the Civil War most Congregational churches in South Carolina became Presbyterian. Congregationalists’ greatest contributions to the life of the state in the twentieth century were through its African American members and through the Avery Normal Institute that educated many of the political and social leaders of Charleston’s black community until the 1950s. The name United Church of Christ was adopted in 1957 at the time of the union with the German Reformed Church.
Clarke, Erskine. Our Southern Zion: A History of Calvinism in the South Carolina Low Country, 1690–1990. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1996.
“Congregationalists.” In The Westminster Dictionary of Church History, edited by Jerald C. Brauer. Philadelphia, Pa.: Westminster, 1971.
Drago, Edmund L. Initiative, Paternalism, and Race Relations: Charleston’s Avery Normal Institute. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990.