I have have lived in Fayette County for 53 years and can remember a lot of good and bad happenings. When I arrived in 1967 there were 8,000 folks living here. Today there are 112,000 folks here and yes, there are some that I wish would return from whence they came.
One of my favorite remembrances and an event I was privileged to participate in, was the tradition of all the county African-American churches taking turns getting together and having a service in the evening at each church. Sadly, I do not believe they do this any more.
The fifth Sunday, August, 1982, found me at a combination church meeting at Edgefield Baptist Church sitting through a very meaningful service and then walking out with a bag with $2,000 in it.
Just four months prior, in April, our precious courthouse had been firebombed by two very bad men, hoping their criminal trials the next day would be forgotten about. Not so.
Now it just so happens that these men were black and the aforementioned churches decided to take up collections at each church and on this evening they all got together to compile these funds together towards the courthouse restitution.
The Fayette County Historical Society had been named as the prime force behind the restoration and that’s where I came in. Several county commissioners were on hand as well as members of the historical society and it was an event like none other.
Combined choirs sang and looked like a spring flower garden in their various color robes, preachers of varying ages led resounding amens and several hundred people were glad to be sharing he moment.
At the first passing of the donation plate, the churches had brought in nearly $1,800 and it was decided that I could not walk out with less than $2,000. So the plate was passed again and again, and I left with that grand sum.
Besides remembering being touched by this action, I remember the words of my friend, the late Tucker Penson.
“We’re not just doing this,” he said as he addressed the parishioners, “because the people who tried to destroy the courthouse were black. We did not do this to make amends. We did it because it’s our courthouse too, and we want to see it put back.”
Amen, Brother Tucker.