Historical Timeline

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Obadiah Dugan street ministering in a automobile

Obadiah Dugan giving an outdoor sermon at the second location of Star Gospel Mission

Inside of the original Star Gospel Mission in 1904

The Dugan Family

Sunday school students outside the Star Gospel Mission on Meeting Street

Obadiah Dugan and other sunday school teachers in front of a park on the Charleston peninsula

The Star Gospel Mission carriage in front of history Charleston building

A Star Gospel Mission volunteer bringing baskets of food to impoverished families

Obadiah Dugan ministering to prisoners

A large group of young sunday school students

Star Gospel Mission's first location at the converted Star Vaudeville Theatre

Local business men volunteer their automobiles to give rides to local Sunday School children

For over a century The Star Gospel Mission has stood as a landmark beacon of light for the weary of body, mind, and spirit. Founded in 1904 by Obadiah Dugan, The Star Gospel Mission predates any Christian welfare organization in the Holy City. Originally established in the old Star Vaudeville Theater that had been closed by the city fathers because of the undesirable element associated with it; The Star Gospel Mission gleans its name from the historic theater and firmly entrenches itself within the identity of the city of Charleston.

Dugan’s heart went out to the poor, homeless and disenfranchised men and boys of the city. After petitioning the mayor to let him use the old Star Theater as a shelter for homeless people, Dugan determined the he would devote the rest of his life to serving people who needed spiritual, psychological and physical help. He invited those in need to sleep in the old theater when they had no other place to stay.

Obadiah Dugan experienced a dramatic religious conversion and made arrangements to use the old theater for revival meetings. On Sunday April 24, 1904, more than 500 attended the first worship service. For years Dugan continued to use the Star Theater as a place of religious movement and vision. In May 24 Dugan acquired the abandoned Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church building at 474 Meeting Street, which is where the Star Gospel Mission has been located ever since.

Following Obadiah’s death in 1936, his son The Rev. Ernest Dugan, a Methodist minister, continued operating the Mission followed by a third generation Dugan, Rev. Ernest Jr., in 1973. The Dugan family’s 86 years of diligent leadership was brought to a close by the retirement of Ernest Jr. in 1986. Now, under the guidance of Doug Donehue the mission continues under the governance of a board of directors.

In 1989 Hurricane Hugo dealt a devastating blow to the Mission when it destroyed its Meeting Street facility, along with the beach cottage and summer camp on Sullivan’s Island. A swell of support from Charleston and the surrounding areas gave the Mission new life and allowed it to rebuild and continue its works. Future plans call for the expansion of this facility with the addition of a separate chapel, dining hall, another dormitory, lavatory and storage space.

With the continued generosity of the Charleston community, The Star Gospel Mission intends to keep its doors open to all persons in crisis and need; providing food, clothing, shelter and spiritual guidance. The Board of Directors, now directed by Rev. Bill Christian, is keeping faith with the founder of the Mission by providing help to the needy and sharing the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all those who come through its doors.

To hear more about the transformational ministry of Star Gospel Mission…

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