It might be time for a third Reconstruction, S.C. Chief Justice Jean Toal told about 500 pastors and delegates gathered in Charleston this week for the 150th conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

“I remember well the time that I was here at ‘Mother’ Emanuel (AME Church) and Morris Brown (AME Church) in the ’60s as we struggled ... to prepare people for the rigors and prejudice and obstacles they would endure as we tried to get them registered to vote,” she said Thursday. “Those were not easy times.”

Toal said that many people think of that period as the second Reconstruction, and now, with “voter identification and other blockages to vote that I thought we solved in the 1960s, maybe it’s time for that third Reconstruction,” she said. “I just hope that I will be around long enough to see that.”

The conference started Wednesday and runs through Saturday. The Rt. Rev. Richard Franklin Norris, prelate of the 7th Episcopal District of the AME Church, is presiding over the conference.

In 1865, the historic Emanuel AME Church was the site of the first AME church conference in the South, which gave birth to the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the South as it exists today.

Reach Brenda Rindge at @brindge on Twitter or at 937-5713.