Patriarch of First Baptist Church in North Charleston, Paul Pridgen, dies at 85
Paul M. Pridgen Jr., pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church of North Charleston, died Sunday. He was 85.
Born Oct. 4, 1927, in Charleston, he graduated from Furman University and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Pridgen was the fourth generation of Baptist ministers in his family, first ordained in 1951.
He served in several churches in North and South Carolina, but returned to First Baptist in North Charleston, the church in which he was raised, and took over from his father in 1962. He remained with the church until his retirement in 1991.
Pridgen received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from the Baptist College of Charleston, now Charleston Southern University, which was housed at First Baptist for its initial academic year.
In 1973, he conducted a week-long revival at Mount Olive Baptist Church in North Charleston, which is where his great-grandfather, Moses Pridgen, served as its first pastor, beginning in 1879.
Paul Pridgen also was considered a civic leader and North Charleston historian. He’d been a resident of the Park Circle area since before World War II and had witnessed rapid growth and change.
Throughout his lifetime, Pridgen was a strong advocate for the city and its underprivileged residents. He had ministered with his father to the majority of the neighborhoods in the North Area and made outreach a priority.
He was an enthusiastic supporter of the now-defunct Noisette Community Master Plan at the Charleston Naval Base because he thought it would help revitalize the area.
He is survived by his wife, Millie Hawkins Pridgen, sons Paul M. Pridgen III and Stephen M. Pridgen, four grandsons, two great-grandchildren, sisters Betty Holand and Mary Zedick and numerous other extended family.
A service will be held on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of North Charleston.
Arrangements are being handled by Stuhr’s Downtown Chapel of Charleston.