Working together, The Balm In Gilead Inc. and The Black Church Food Security Network is launching The African American Church Community Project and Food Security Project – SC. The African American Church Community Project – SC is designed to support faith leaders and congregations who understand our urgent need to work together to address the high rates of poverty, lack of fresh produce, food deserts, and food insecurities in our communities.  

With over 50 years of collective experience in building and strengthening the capacity of Black Churches to become community hubs of health promotion and disease prevention, the organizations will lead community efforts in South Carolina to change health behaviors that often result in high death rates due to preventable diseases. Ebenezer AME Church in Lincolnville, South Carolina will serve as the national model for the initiative. 

On Feburary 1, 2021, Dr. Pernessa Seele, Founder and CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Inc, offered the use of her land to Ebenezer AME Church to plant a community garden. The garden will be located at 112 Dunmeyer Hill Road in Lincolnville. The Garden will be named Bishop Richard Harvey Cain Community Garden, in honor of Reverend Richard Harvey Cain, one of the town’s 1867 founders. Rev. Andre Thornhill, Ebenezer AME Church pastor, has done a brilliant job getting the project off the ground.

Dr. Seele chronicled the journey and the process of bringing the African American Church Community Project and Food Security Project – SC to fruition.

The Original Property (Around 2/10) 

2/15: I visited the land in Lincolnville. Some clearing had begun. I decided that we should expand the clearing area to accommodate community folk coming to work in the garden as well as sitting and enjoying the breeze. The birth of name: Bishop Richard Harvey Cain Community Garden.

Beginning 2/27: The property clearing was expanded to approximately ½ – ¾ acre.

We found the porch of the house and the well. Built in the 1800’s. I spent many days on this porch in the 50s & 60s.

3/14: Brother Robinson came with his tractor and tilled the soil.

3/14: The community garden has rows for planting.

Now we can see!

  • This is a huge area for the first year of The folks will decide this week how much area will actually be used.
  • The area for the community sitting and event on April 10 will also be allotted this

The soil will be tested this week to prepare for seeding.

Seeding is scheduled to begin on April 10 as a part of the launching event. A diagram on the community garden is attached.

About The Balm In Gilead 

Celebrating 32 years of service, The Balm In Gilead works to prevent diseases and improve the health status of individuals by providing support to faith-based and other institutions in areas of

program design, implementation and evaluation. This support strengthens their capacity to deliver programs and services that contribute to the elimination of health disparities among African Americans.

Description of The Black Church Food Security Network 

The Black Church Food Security Network strengthens and establishes economic ventures that supply every part of the food system by utilizing an asset-based approach in organizing and linking the vast resources of historically African American congregations and Black farmers in rural and urban areas.

African American Church Community Garden and Food Security Project
In South Carolina

Participating Churches 

Ebenezer AME Church
Rev. Andre Thornhill, Pastor
Lincolnville, SC

Live Oak AME Church
Rev. Fedrick Allen Wilson, Pastor
Vance, SC

Browns Chapel AME Zion Church
Rev. Otha Smith, Pastor
Lowrys, SC

Metropolitan AME Zion Church
Rev. Angela Boyd, Pastor
Chester, SC

St. John Missionary Baptist Church
Pastor John T. Brown, Pastor
Sharon, SC

Saint Luke Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Persell Ross, Jr., Pastor
Sharon, SC

Rock Grove AME Zion Church
Rev. Titus Thorn, Pastor
Rock Hill, SC

Greater Unity AME Zion Church
Rev. Randolph Miller, Pastor
Hickory Hill, SC



Shiloh AME Church
Rev. Eugene Collins, Pastor
Edisto Island, SC

El Bethel AME Church
Rev. Ronnie McCrorey, Pastor
Indian Land, SC

The Life Center Cathedral
Bishop Brian D. Moore, Pastor
North Charleston, SC

Robinson AME Zion Church
Rev. Jeret Fite, Pastor
Cheraw. SC

Greater Unity AME Zion Church
Rev. George McKain, Pastor
Sharon, SC

Bunton CME Church
Rev. Cassandry Keys, Pastor
Spartenburg, SC

Pleasant Grove AME Zion Church
Rev. Ron Miller, Pastor
Cheraw, SC

Brookland Baptist Church
Dr. Charles Jackson, Pastor
Cayce, SC