“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” – Psalm 127:1

Williams Chapel AME Church referenced this Bible verse as part of their prayer for God’s blessing upon a new daycare center they hope to build next to the church located at 1198 Glover St. in Orangeburg.

Orangeburg City Council members and South Carolina State University officials were among those who converged upon the site on Wednesday afternoon, along with church officials, for a groundbreaking ceremony.

Williams Chapel is home to a Small Steps, Big Strides daycare, which is currently located within the church. The church is now looking forward to having a new standalone facility thanks to the benevolence of the family of the late Dr. Oscar Butler.

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Butler, who died in 2017 at the age of 81, was not only a member of the church, but also an advocate for social justice. He had retired from S.C. State, where he served in many capacities, including as vice president of student affairs.

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His wife, Barbara, and other family members, some of whom joined her at Wednesday’s ceremony, have chosen to fund a new daycare facility for the church. It will be named in honor of the couple.

Blaw Construction of Orangeburg is the contractor for the building project which is estimated to cost around $150,000.

Mrs. Butler, a retired teacher with a background in early childhood education, said she hoped the new facility would be successful in developing the next generation’s leaders.

“It will be a place for our children to come. They have a place over here, but they use it for other things, too. So I felt that if they would have their own, they wouldn’t have to be shifting around and moving stuff around,” she said.

Mrs. Butler said that her husband would be happy that the facility is being built.

“Oh, he would be proud because we donated the playground for the center. … He did quite a bit for Orangeburg. So I wanted to give something with his name on it,” she said, noting that children hold a special place in her heart.

“Early childhood was my area, and this is our church. So I felt that the church needed a daycare center. I feel good about it,” she said.

Church pastor the Rev. Stanley Rivers said, “We thank God so much for the benevolence of Sister Barbara Butler. This is not the beginning of their benevolence. The playground that you see in the rear was donated by her and her husband in honor of their son, Darryl.”

The couple’s son died in 2004 at the age of 34.

Rivers continued, “This is not the first time that they have shown benevolence not only to Williams Chapel, but to the City of Orangeburg. This daycare is totally underwritten by the Butler family, and when you see them, we want you to thank them for the Lord laying benevolence on their heart.”

Project contractor Henry Graham of Blaw Construction said construction would begin soon.

“It should be any week now. I’m excited. We’ve been working on this about four months now. So we’re excited about getting started. We’re ready,” Graham said.

“They’re going to get a quality building in order to serve the children of this community. That’s what we’re going to put together for them, something that they can be proud of,” he said.

Orangeburg City Councilwoman Sandra Knotts is a member of the church and the daycare’s board of directors, members of which were on hand at Wednesday’s ceremony, along with center staff.

“We look forward to the new facility. No question about it,” she said. “I’m just overjoyed at the potential and the possibilities that it will present, not just to Williams Chapel, but to the community as a whole. I’m excited about that. They will be doing some after-school kinds of things,” Knotts said.

Rivers said the new facility would indeed help the church expand the center’s service capacity.

“It’s going to open us more opportunities for us to move forward as far as after school programs and all of that. We’re looking forward for this new facility to do a lot more than even the daycare. We want to do more operations coming out of here. It’s just a great day to be here at Williams Chapel, it really is,” he said.

The pastor continued, “There’s an old African cliché that it takes a village to raise children. We hope hopefully and prayerfully that this facility would be that village that would raise children into young men, young ladies that would give back to the society.”

“From this location, lawyers, doctors, Congress people, even preachers will come,” he said.

Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said, “This is such a great day in the City of Orangeburg, right in the heart of town, where we’re breaking ground for this new facility here at Williams Chapel to serve our people.”

The mayor continued, “Williams Chapel is a great church. Every Thursday, y’all serve meals. … You’re just a church by the roadside trying to help mankind. Orangeburg is very proud of this church and very proud of you all and what you do here in the city.”

He thanked Mrs. Butler for her generosity.

“Mrs. Butler, I want to say God bless you, and hats off to you for the sacrifices that you are making to make sure that children are cared for. We appreciate that because that’s our future,” the mayor said.

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Rivers said, “Sister Barbara, we want you to know that God will magnify your gift a hundred-fold because you cannot beat God giving no matter how hard we try. It may not come monetarily, but it’s going to come in the form of what this daycare is going to do for this world.”

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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