HILTON HEAD ISLAND — The oldest church congregation on Hilton Head Island is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

The Island Packet of Hilton Head (http://bit.ly/A9A46a ) reports the First African Baptist Church was founded in the freedman’s village of Mitchelville in 1862. The village was founded after the island was captured by Union troops early in the Civil War.

Dozens of people gathered at the site of the former village Sunday to hear the history of the church’s founding.

Historian Emory Campbell said the first pastor of the church was the Rev. Abraham Murchison who was an escaped slave. Murchison tended to the spiritual needs of his flock but also recruited blacks to serve in the Union army.