Around Town


St. Andrew By-The-Sea United Methodist Church and its new senior pastor are making history.

The Hilton Head Island church will welcome the Rev. Dr. Robin Dease for her first sermon on July 4. Dease said she is the first African American woman to serve as lead pastor of a white United Methodist church in South Carolina.

For the past eight years, she has served as the district superintendent of the Hartsville District in the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Dease said St. Andrew has made history in many areas, one being that it is the only Methodist church in South Carolina that has multiple campuses. St. Andrew’s main campus is located at 20 Pope Avenue on Hilton Head. Its second location is at 39 Persimmon St., suites 203 and 204, in Bluffton.

“They continue to crack the stained-glass ceiling,” Dease said. “They continue to be innovative and creative. And I hope that my leadership will bring some of that creativity and passion for people. I hope that’s going to really make a difference and catapult them into the future in positive ways.”

Dease began working in ministry in 1992 and has served rural and urban churches in South Carolina since 1998. Her first and longest tenure was with Wesley United Methodist Church on Johns Island, where she served as senior pastor for 10 years.

Dease is excited to be back in the Lowcountry. She loves being on the water, fishing, crabbing, harvesting oysters, participating in Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies and just being closer to nature in general.

“To be returning and possibly completing my ministry in the lower part of the state is sort of a wonderful deja vu, if you will,” Dease said. “It is a beautiful place to live.”

Dease feels blessed not only to be back in the Lowcountry but to have the opportunity to once again be a pastor to the people.

She described the role of district superintendent of the Hartsville District as a human resources kind of job. Dease oversaw 104 churches in six counties as district superintendent.

Her new role, on the other hand, will involve leading, pastoring, building relationships with people and getting involved in the community.

Dease joins St. Andrew as the church’s former senior pastor, the Rev. Neil Yongue, settles into retirement. Yongue served 43 years in ministry, the past 14 of those years as senior pastor of St. Andrew.

He is confident that Dease will do an excellent job serving the people of St. Andrew and the local community. Yongue said Dease is a wonderful leader, is a lot of fun and has a great reputation.

“I’m able to leave knowing that the church is in good hands,” Yongue said. “There’s a really bright future for the church and for the island.”

St. Andrew By-The-Sea United Methodist Church hosts traditional worship services at 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Sundays at its Hilton Head campus, and contemporary services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sundays at the Bluffton campus. Services are streamed live on the church’s website, YouTube and Facebook. For more information, call 843-785-4711 or visit