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  • Tribute to Dr. William P. Diggs

    by Representative James E. Clyburn

    Posted on 2013-02-25

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    CLYBURN of south carolina in the house of representatives Monday, February 25, 2013 Mr. CLYBURN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a remarkable theologian and dedicated community servant. Dr. William P. Diggs has retired after 50 years of leading Trinity Baptist Church in Florence, South Carolina. He has set a tremendous example of stewardship and service for future generations to follow.

    Dr. Diggs was born in Columbia, South Carolina, but grew up in Rock Hill. Always a dedicated student, he graduated from Morehouse College, earned a Master of Arts in Sociology from Atlanta University, a Master of Divinity from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York, and a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

    Educational opportunities took him around the country, but Dr. Diggs longed to return home to South Carolina. Upon his return, he served as Pastor at Flat Rock Baptist Church in Clover, South Carolina, and Galilee Baptist Church in nearby York. In 1962, he truly found a home when he took the position as Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church where he remained until his retirement in December 2012.

    During his half-century at Trinity, the church itself grew in size and influence. The improvements to the physical structure included a church manse, a complete renovation of the edifice, and the construction of a new education building. The church also purchased two buildings--Trinity Annex and the Old Seaboard Depot--and secured land for a new parking lot. A new addition which houses a pre-school; additional Sunday school classrooms; meeting rooms; and a fully- equipped kitchen was also built. And in 2010, the church purchased commercial property on North Dargan Street that includes barber shops, beauty salons and a restaurant.

    The church's community influence also grew with its size. Dr. Diggs made education a priority and led Trinity Baptist Church to contribute nearly $35,000 annually to higher education facilities. He also instituted a pre-school which is licensed by the State of South Carolina and has been recognized for its excellence. The church also organized a federally operated credit union, which has assets of almost three million dollars.

    Dr. Diggs accomplished quite a lot at Trinity Baptist Church, but his contributions did not stop at the church's door. He served as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Friendship, Benedict and Morris Colleges for a total of 24 years, and is a former Adjunct Professor at Francis Marion University. He is a sought after speaker having addressed students at Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Religion, Interdenominational Theological Center, Bishop College, the University of South Carolina, Winthrop University and Coker College, and many sermons at churches throughout the country.

    He has also contributed his time and talents to other faith-based organizations; serving as Past President and Past Dean of the Congress of Christian Education, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., and Past Dean of the South Region. He is also a Past Moderator of the Pee Dee Baptist Association, and the Past Dean of the Pee Dee Baptist Workshop.

    He has served as a member of the Boards of Trustees at Friendship College, Benedict College, and Morris Colleges, a member of the Boards of Directors at Morehouse School of Religion, the Interdenominational Theological Center, and as a board member of Nannie Helen Burroughs School, the Greater Florence Habitat for Humanity, and the Mayor's Human Relations Committee.

    Dr. Diggs is a Life Member of the NAACP, and Past President of the Florence Branch. He helped to organize the first ``sit-in'' demonstrations in South Carolina, which occurred on February 12, 1960 in Rock Hill.

    Dr. Diggs is the recipient of numerous awards including the Order of the Palmetto in 1996, the highest civilian award given by the Governor of South Carolina. He was inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame in 1998 by 100 Black Men of South Carolina, Inc. and the United Black Fund. The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Building Bridges Humanitarian Award in 2000. He is also the recipient of the Pee Dee Area Council Boy Scouts of America Whitney Young Award and the AARP Andrus Award for Community Service for the State of South Carolina among many other honors.

    Dr. Diggs is married to the former Clotilda Daniels, and the couple has two children--Mary Lynne and William, Jr. (Lennette). They have one grandson, William IV.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask you and my colleagues to join me in commending Dr. William P. Diggs for his more than 50 years of service in the ministry. His ministry is a living example of Peter's admonition, ``As each one has received a special gift, employs it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.'' I am proud to call Dr. Diggs a dear friend, and I wish him well in retirement.


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