Our History

Rural Mission, Inc. was chartered in 1969 as an interdenominational, non-profit organization to foster, promote and administer to the spiritual, social, educational, medical and housing requirements of the rural people of the sea islands of coastal South Carolina.

We trace our beginnings back to 1954, when volunteers from three Charleston churches —Bethel Methodist, Saint Matthew Lutheran and Circular Congregational — formed the Migrant Committee of Church Women United. The committee’s activities initially spanned about six weeks during the summer vegetable season, when the sea islands had a large influx of migrant laborers. The volunteers expanded their activities as health, housing and educational needs grew.

In 1959, the committee hired Reverend Willis T. Goodwin to serve as a connecting link between the migrants and the outside world. Guided by Rev. Goodwin, the committee started a Bible school for migrant children that grew rapidly, eventually relocating to Haut Gap School on John’s Island, where it continues to take place each June.

The early 1960s brought more interest to the area, and more volunteers. Operations expanded. As the committee’s work expanded, members recognized the need for more specific health care and housing assistance. In 1969, the Migrant Committee became Rural Mission, Inc. A few years later, a federal grant allowed the group to study the need for a rural health center; from this grew the Sea Island Comprehensive Health Clinic.

In 1982, Linda Dingle Gadson, formerly the church office secretary, became the director of Rural Mission. That same year, Rural Mission moved from its location at Bethlehem United Methodist Church on John’s Island to its present site on Bohicket Sound.

Over the years, the services provided by Rural Mission have expanded one hundred fold. If there’s a need, the Mission strives to meet it, whether it’s food, clothes, furnishings, day-care facilities or spiritual guidance. An ever-increasing group of dedicated volunteers continue to give prayerful attention to provide these essentials for the rural Lowcountry communities who need them.