Organization of the Meeting House

The White Meeting House at Dorchester, South Carolina, was established as a Congregational church. By the time its congregation migrated to the Midway District, however, its religious beliefs, while still Congregational, were largely based on the theological system of John Calvin.


John Calvin (1509-1564) was a French theologian and religious reformer. His “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” published in 1536, brought about changes in Congregational­ism and elevated Presbyterianism to a major principle. Con­gregationalists and Presbyterians in South Carolina were Calvinists by 1754.


Members of the White Meeting House congregation were known as “settlers on the Medway and North Newport rivers” when they arrived in the Midway District in 1754. The church they organized in the Midway District that year was a continuation of the White Meeting House. It was referred to only as the “Meeting House.”


Members of the Meeting House, an independent Congrega­tional church, subscribed to the doctrine of John Calvin. For years they were closely associated with Presbyterians. Yet, the Congregational denomination was catholic, but not a part of the Roman Catholic Church, and had a tenet of Puritanism. The Presbyterian denomination had neither of those factors.”


The South Carolina settlers commenced building a log church almost as soon as they arrived in the Midway Dis­trict in 1754. It was completed in four weeks. During that time worship services were conducted by Reverend John Os­good, who migrated to Georgia with them, in various of their homes.


Reverend Osgood was born in Dorchester, South Carolina, in 1710. He received his early academic and religious educa­tion from Reverend Hugh Fisher, a Presbyterian minister who served as pastor of the White Meeting House after the departure of Reverend Joseph Lord. Reverend Fisher died in 1734.


Reverend Osgood graduated from Harvard College, a Congregational institution, in 1733. He was one of only four native-born South Carolinians to receive a degree from the college since South Carolina was founded some 90 years before. He was ordained a Congregational minister on March 24, 1735 and was pastor of the White Meeting House until 1754 when he continued his ministry in the Meeting House in the Midway District.


From church records and other published records, it may be said that from 1754 until he died nearly 20 years later, Reverend Osgood was pastor of a Congregational church in every sense of the word. His congregation observed the puri­tan tenet of their denomination faithfully.


The Meeting House had two coordinate branches. The first was the Meeting House branch, and the second was the Midway Society. The first was composed of male communing members to whom was entrusted the spiritual government and management of the church. The second was composed of male communing members and male non-communing mem­bers who would agree to support the pastor and ordinances of religion, and attend annual meetings.


During annual meetings, the Meeting House received and dismissed members and dealt with disorderly ones. The Mid­way Society arranged for the call and support of the pastor, the construction and preservation of the church building and managed all temporalities of the church.


Members of the Meeting House branch were entitled to two votes in the call of a pastor. A clerk was elected during the annual meetings, and a “Board of Select Men” was named, to which was usually entrusted the execution of important matters.