Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do You Feel Persecuted?

Many churches today are persecuted in one way or another for many different reasons.   The Prince William's Parish Church, or the Sheldon Church as it is known today, has seen extreme persecution in it's 266 year history.  The church is located between the towns of Beaufort and Yemassee in South Carolina.  It was built between 1745 and 1753 and funded by William Bull, who was the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina.  Bull died before the church was even completed and was buried at the base of the altar inside the church.  His grave is there, inside the old walls.
William Bull's Grave

During the Revolutionary War, the church was set on fire when British General Augustine Prevost invaded the area in 1779.  In 1826, the church was rebuilt using the surviving walls of the original structure.  On January 14, 1865, the church was burned a second time when it was set on fire by Sherman's troops during his "March to the Sea'' campaign.   It was never rebuilt.

I have done a little internet research to try and understand why churches were burned during the wars.  One site claimed gunpowder was stored in the church during the Civil War.  Another claimed the British associated some churches with American revolutionaries.   I never did find anything definitive. 

Today the wall and front columns are still standing surrounded by beautiful Live Oaks and Dogwoods.   There are a few graves around the church dating back to the early 1700's.

Some of the oldest graves

Old Sheldon Church
We got to the church not long after sunrise to take advantage of the soft, warm early morning light.   Before the sun was high enough to shine on the church itself, the indirect light made the church ruins glow like there was a light on inside.   It was a bit hazy early in the morning, which made the skies white or grey.   I've intentionally cropped the photos to remove as much of the sky as possible.

After spending some quality time with South Carolina's finest mosquitoes, we were getting ready to leave when the sun got just high enough to shine through the tree leaves.   I took advantage of this to capture a "sun burst" above the church.   To get this effect you need to shoot with a small aperture (I used f/25 here) and position the camera so the sun is partially blocked, creating a pinpoint light source. 

I hope you enjoy these photos.  These and others are available for purchase in the Sheldon Church Gallery

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