In 1865 50 ex-slaves met in an old stable given by Mr. S. A. Rigby, who was a northerner and moved into the town of Manning during the reconstruction period. These former slaves organized the stable into a church and named it “Our Church.” After nine years of being organized Our Church formally changed its Trinity Church. Historic Trinity originated in the early 1870s when the catalytic movement in the struggle for education and religious freedom stirred in the hearts of the citizens of Clarendon County, South Carolina. Six years after the Emancipation Proclamation, a courageous group of men purchased property in the town of Manning, South Carolina to give newly freed Negros an education and a place to worship.
On September 29, 1869, the church purchased the first conveyance of one-half acre of land for one hundred and fifty dollars for the separate and exclusive use and benefit of education. Relators Benjamin Walker and Young Newston Butler sold the property to the following persons: Adam Carter, Titus Mallette, Primus Severance, Joseph Moultrie, B.P. Whitmore, and Elias Dickerson. Other concerned citizens of Manning, namely William Dozier, William Dickerson, Brutus Days, Derry Conyers, Warren Spencer, and Hercules Boyd purchased more property. Others purchased another acre on November 24, 1870, for three hundred dollars. The deed and title for this purchase reads “for the exclusive use and benefit of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Manning.” One of the witnesses to sign the conveyance document was William Nelson, a farmer and member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
The property, originally bounded on the north and west lands, belonging to N.A. Ridgill, south of North Boundary Street of the original plate of the village in Manning. The land was originally located on the east lot belonging to Walker and Butler which later became where S. A. Rigby resided formally. This street is today named Rigby St. in his honor.
During the early 1870s Historic Trinity began construction of its new home. At that time, Historic Trinity began to grow rapidly, but after a few years later it became inadequate and could no longer accommodate the large congregation; therefore, the leaders demolished that building and erected a larger edifice. The second edifice only lasted a couple of years before being destroyed by fire, but the cornerstone was recovered in 1895 and set in the third structure. In 1914, the church erected a wood stricture under the leadership of Bishop, the Right Reverend L.J. Coppin, Presiding Elder Reverend J.C. Watkins, Pastor Reverend A. W. Timmons, and Trustees June Walker, Dr. J. P. Golden, Willie Hatfield, Willie Davis, John L. Brown and Joe Sprott. Historic Trinity has a longstanding connection to early African Methodism in the state of South Carolina.
In 1892 Historic Trinity became a member of the Northeast Annual Conference of the AME Church but later was shifted to the Central Annual Conference, which Historic Trinity held the very first session of the Central Annual Conference in Manning on November 20, 1921, with Bishop Chapelle Presiding.
The current structure has undergone many significant changes from being the one-story gable roof framed building with two side door entrances to a modernized house of worship. In 1943 the members found it necessary to close the side doors, leaving intact the top section of the gothic-arched stained-glass window for the installation of two spacious restrooms in the vestibule. After the side doors were closed, double doors were hung in the bottom half creating a front entrance to the sanctuary. In 1972, an educational unit made from a two-story brick structure with Sunday school rooms, a pastor office and fellowship hall were erected under the leadership of Pastor Reverend E.A. Vance and various church trustees. The mortgage burning ceremony was celebrated on September 8, 1985. Unfortunately, on September 21, 1989, suffered incredible damage from hurricane Hugo, but by the grace of God, Historic Trinity continued to grow amid tragedy. On Sunday, June 11, 2006, Historic Trinity AME Church dedicated and unveiled the South Carolina Historical Marker (South Carolina Department of Archives and History) under the direction of Pastor Reverend Dr. Bennie Colclough and Church Trustees. The marker gave acknowledgment of the growth and development of Historic Trinity and its historical significance in the organizational structure of the Seventh Episcopal District AMEC and the state of South Carolina.