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The PC(USA)’s DOWNTOWN CHURCH is an energy hub with a different approach to stewardship


The South Carolina church’s head pastor, the Rev. Dawn Hyde, was a plenary speaker at Stewardship Kaleidoscope

January 13, 2023

The Rev. Dawn Hyde is the head pastor at DOWNTOWN CHURCH in Columbia, South Carolina. Hyde was a plenary speaker during last month’s Stewardship Kaleidoscope. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

Things are different at DOWNTOWN CHURCH in — you guessed it — downtown Columbia, South Carolina.

The church is located in a former energy facility for the State Hospital, and it features an open floorplan, stained concrete floors, large rolling garage doors and no branding of the church on the brick exterior.

Instead of a sky-soaring steeple, it features three old smokestacks — representing the Trinity, jokes the church’s head pastor, the Rev. Dawn Hyde.

The sign out front reads Central Energy – which is what she hopes her church provides to the community. “We are an energy hub,” she says.

Hyde was a plenary speaker at Stewardship Kaleidoscope, an annual conference on generosity and giving that is a collaboration between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This year’s conference was held Sept. 26–28 in Savannah, Georgia.

The church is a community living the gospel words of inclusiveness and love. In their words, “We are a church made up of different stones. We don’t all think alike, we don’t all look alike, we don’t all vote alike. But we do agree that Jesus is our cornerstone, our savior, and a model for how we ought to treat one another, loving God and loving people.”

They start the conversation about what their church is by saying, “We welcome and celebrate all people. Come as you are. We follow Jesus by asking honest questions and loving our neighbors. We are unfinished.”

DOWNTOWN CHURCH doesn’t run a traditional stewardship campaign or target a specific month. Instead, Hyde takes a multi-pronged, personal and humorous approach to “the ask.” As the head pastor, she prefers one-on-one meetings over coffee and comes prepared with simple information sheets to leave behind.

Seeking a “joyful response of giving” is how she describes her approach to making the ask for financial support of her Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation.

A key to making “the ask,” she says, is to be sure you believe in the cause — in this case, the gospel and the Presbyterian Church.

“It’s pretty exciting but it’s pretty terrifying” to ask people to give their hard-earned money to help a church. She suggests paying close attention to how the individual responds to your ask.

For instance, a church member or community leader may want to give, but not to the specific purpose you are asking. Or they may have a complaint or concern but are shy about bringing it up. Either way, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow, she says.

To supplement the give from the church’s 650 members, the church rents out its facility for weddings, parties, bar and bat mitzvahs and community events. To keep Hyde and the team from being overwhelmed with that task, the church invited a catering company to use the church’s commercial kitchen on weekdays and market the event space.

The goal of the income generation is to offset building expenses.

John C. Williams for the Presbyterian Foundation

John C. Williams is a veteran writer with his own PR firm specializing in helping K-12 education, government and nonprofits tell their story. He is a 30-year member at Sea Island Presbyterian Church in Beaufort, South Carolina. Send comments on this story to

Today’s Focus: DOWNTOWN CHURCH, Columbia SC

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Clara Nunéz, Associate, Program Administration, Self-Development of People, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Matthew Nurkin, Vice President, & Managing Director, Investments, Board of Pensions

Let us pray

Gracious God, we thank you for those who minister to the sick, the poor, the dispirited, the disenfranchised and all in need of you healing power. May we all strive to spread Jesus’ love and compassion far and wide as we go about our daily lives. Amen.

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