The congregation of Millbrook Baptist Church began worshiping in its new $10 million sanctuary, which seats 2,000 people, in September.
The humble beginnings of the 3,300-member church in Aiken are just as evident as its growth.
The original chapel, which was built in 1886 by J.V. George and holds 125 people, is still on the church grounds.
The church has "a lot of history, a lot of tradition," said the Rev. Eddie Leopard. "It's good to build on what others have built."
The church can trace its roots to 1874, when Sunday school classes were held in a neighborhood schoolhouse.
According to A Revised History of Millbrook Baptist Church, compiled by Nell Huskey, the Rev. Arthur Buist was invited to preach once a month.
The church was formally organized Oct. 5, 1884, by 16 charter members. Fourteen of the organizers previously belonged to Town Creek Church, the Rev. Leopard said.
The original sanctuary, which is 40 feet wide and 60 feet long, was constructed of native hard pine on a brick foundation. The construction costs totaled $881.35, wrote Ms. Huskey, and the congregation borrowed $345.
The costs did not include a coat of white paint for the frame church or the construction of its baptistry.
The chapel, which is used for weddings and funerals, still has its original pulpit and chairs, pews and stained-glass windows.
"A lot of churches will take their stained glass out of their original building and put it in the new," the Rev. Leopard said.
The chapel was first enlarged in 1909. It was expanded again in 1952 after there was an influx of new members from the construction of the Savannah River Plant.
The membership continued to grow during the 1950s and a new sanctuary, which seats about 1,000 people, was built in 1962. This building serves as the church youth center.
The congregation broke ground for its newest sanctuary in 2003, the Rev. Leopard said.
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.