Cleaves Memorial CME celebrates 100 years

Columbia church holding banquet, special anniversary service this weekend

Cleaves Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church celebrates its 100th birthday this weekend.

According to church history, the congregation had its beginnings at the turn of the 20th century in a section of Columbia known as Smith's Quarters. At the time, area Baptists and Methodists saw the need for organized Sunday School and prayer meetings.

The Baptists, who were in the majority, eventually built their church in 1907, which became St. John's Baptist Church at Beltline and Farrow Roads.

The Methodists later moved to McKinley Street where they came under the wing of Sidney Park CME Church. Sidney Park sent Isaac Friday and his wife to conduct Sunday School and worship and the small congregation flourished.

In 1909, the congregation decided to establish its own church, Cleaves Chapel, named for Sidney Park's pastor, the Rev. N.C. Cleaves.

History shows that the first wooden structure survived storms and fire, but was finally replaced in 1950 by a new structure. The name Cleaves Chapel was changed to Cleaves Memorial during that time.

Congregants of the Beaumont Avenue church will gather tonight for a 6 p.m. banquet at Denny Terrace Community Center and celebrate Sunday at a 3 p.m. anniversary service. Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt Jr. of the 7th Episcopal District will deliver the address.

Eloise Suber will be honored as the "mother of the church" for being the oldest member.