2011-02-25 / News

Shandon Presbyterian Church

By Jackie Perrone

Started in 1913, but celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. Does Shandon Presbyterian Church have an arithmetic problem?

“The Shandon Mission was started in 1913,” says Senior Pastor Agnes Norfleet. “It was not until June, 1916 that a charter was filed establishing Shandon Presbyterian Church. This church will be 100 years old in five years; a committee is starting right now to plan the centennial celebration.”

In 1913, the town of Shandon, on the outskirts of the city of Columbia, was “one of the fastest growing small villagers and strategic country places,” according to the church’s 1990 history book. The South Carolina Synod of the Presbyterian Church had formed a Local Home Missions Committee in 1908, and by 1913 the Shandon Mission was formed under the sponsorship of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia.

This suburban town was annexed into Columbia in 1913, a progressive move that brought city water, electricity, and sewage service to the area. Its population was listed at 1,300. Fifty–one of those residents signed on as charter members of the new Presbyterian Church, June 3, 1916.

By August of that same year, the industrious Presbyterians were building their first permanent structure, a “gableend structure with two castellated towers reminiscent of the Gothic Revival style,” according to the official history of Shandon Presbyterian Church published in 1990.) It stood on donated property at the corner of Wheat and Maple Streets in the thriving subdivision and was dedicated in November, 1916.

The tenth anniversary, in 1926, found Shandon Presbyterian naming committees and raising funds for a new, larger church. A lot on Woodrow Street known as “the Lawson lot” was bought for $7,500, and a cornerstone was laid April 14, 1929. The collapse of the stock market in October signaled the beginning of The Great Depression, but Shandon Presbyterian opened its new doors on schedule.

Rev. Agnes Norfleet performs a baptism at Shandon Presbyterian Church Rev. Agnes Norfleet performs a baptism at Shandon Presbyterian Church The Rev. Agnes Norfleet leads the congregation of about 1200 today in a complex that includes not only the 1929 sanctuary with fellowship hall underneath, but expanded office space, an educational building and fitness center. Rev. Norfleet grew up in Richmond, Virginia, where her father was treasurer at what was then Union Seminary. Her mother was a graduate of the adjacent Presbyterian School of Christian Education. Rev. Norfleet graduated from that seminary and served two years in the Atlanta area before coming to Shandon in 2005.

“I can name three things that are outstanding at this church,” she says. “ We are the primary supporter of the University of South Carolina student ministry, a significant outreach for our congregation. The students and some of our members travel out of the country on mission trips and will be going to Nicaragua soon. Second, we offer a unique program called The Arts at Shandon with monthly arts events including music, drama, and the visual arts. We have our own drama troupe, The Shandon Players who will be presenting Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible in mid- March. And third, we provide a complete Child Development Center, which offers a full day of child care for infants up to 5K, and an after–school program for students up through the eighth grade. We send six buses to pick up students at their elementary and middle schools to bring them here, where they can get tutoring, mentoring, a snack, and activities."

Shandon Presbyterian is heavily involved in community outreach as well, participating in the Co–Operative Ministry, the Columbia Housing Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, and an agency called Shandon Housing Resources, which restores houses and offers them to homeless families.

Rev. Norfleet’s is married to Larry Arney, executive director of Transitions, the Alliance for the Homeless in Columbia. The couple has two sons, James and Winston, both students at Dreher High School.

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