Operation Transformation: The Vision Made Clearer



It is interesting how the vision of a Conference Center for the South Atlantic Episcopal District emerged. Perhaps as the attendance of the Bishop Arthur Marshall Faith and Order Institute grew and the Episcopal District had to move from Clinton College Campus, Rock Hill, SC to the Augusta Marriott, Augusta, GA, the consciousness of the leadership was raised to find a larger facility or even build a facility to accommodate the Episcopal District functions.

The South Atlantic Episcopal District is somewhat of a compact geographical district. The Presiding Bishop can drive from any point of the Episcopal District in less than five (5) hours. There are three (3) annual conferences in the state of South Carolina (South Carolina, Pee Dee and Palmetto) and one annual conference in Georgia. Even though the Georgia Annual Conference is widespread and the smaller of the four annual conferences, it still could benefit from the Conference Center particularly with Episcopal functions. There are one hundred and sixty-one (160) congregations in the South Atlantic Episcopal District, the state of South Carolina has one hundred thirty four (134) congregations and Georgia has twenty-six (26) congregations. Most of the congregations in South Carolina can be found in the northern section of the state (Rock Hill, Chester and Lancaster) and along the borders of North Carolina (Bennettsville/Cheraw), Columbia, Spartanburg and Winnsboro will make up the difference of the other A. M. E. Zion congregations in the state. The A. M. E. Zion Church is very small or non-existent in the central and southern parts of the state. Most of the congregations in Georgia are small circuits and require a lot of travel to get to them.

In the spring of 2010, the leadership of the Episcopal District began to discuss and explore the possibility of a Conference Center. After much discussion and exploration, it was decided to focus the search in the state of South Carolina. The city of Rock Hill was looked upon as a reasonable site because the Episcopal Residence and Clinton College were both in Rock Hill. Of course, the exploration extended from available land as well as other properties located in the cities of Rock Hill, Lancaster and Chester, South Carolina. It was finally determined to renovate an existing strip mall (Edison Mall) located at 745 Saluda Street, Rock Hill, South Carolina. Saluda Street is approximately four (4) or five (5) blocks from downtown Rock Hill. It is an area that has been view unfavorable in the past, but in recent years is rebounding with new businesses and city renewal. Bishop Monroe has interjected his ministry of Operation Transformation, and has impressed and encouraged the city officials, neighborhood and the community. Subsequently, a meeting of conference officials, pastors, trustees and stewards from every congregation of the SAED was held in June 2010 to launch the vision and solicit support for the construction of the Conference Center. During that meeting, the vision was accepted and the support was given to move forward.

During the past three and one half years, the efforts to develop the conference center have been confronted with many challenges, from financing, naysayers to environmental discoveries. With the prayers of persons across the denomination, the Episcopal District Prayer Warriors, the implementation of a financial plan that has not crippled or overtaxed the congregations, the vision is on the way to become a reality. The SAED Conference Center is a 35,000 sq. ft. property that will house a worship center with the capacity of nearly 1,000 people, a banquet hall that has a capacity of 700; nine breakout rooms with a capacity of 50 each; a suite of nine offices, with a executive size conference room and parking for 240 cars. Even though the project had to obtain a new contractor as well as a new architect, the John Urban Architectural Firm and Southern Builders of York, have designed a first class facility for God and the A. M. E. Zion Church.

It is the hope of the leadership of SAED that the Conference Center will be completed by September 2014. We solicit your prayers and any support you are willing to give for this magnificent project.

Bishop Kenneth Monroe
South Atlantic Episcopal District
 

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