The Star Gospel Mission specializes in providing homeless men a safe, comfortable and affordable transitional housing facility within a Christ-centered setting. The men who are guests at the Mission have the opportunity to experience a new beginning, a fresh start, a new lease on life, and yet another chance at putting their lives back together. In a word, here at the Mission, they can get their lives back on track! We take in all sorts and conditions of men, with a wide range of education, socio-economic, faith and belief systems, and racial and cultural backgrounds.
The Star Gospel Mission was established in 1904 in the old Star Vaudeville Theater. The theater was closed by the city fathers in 1902 because of the undesirable element associated with it. Following a dramatic conversion experience, Obadiah Dugan, a successful furniture dealer, determined to devote the rest of his life to serving people who needed spiritual, psychological and physical help. He founded the Mission after petitioning the mayor to let him use the theater as a shelter for homeless persons. On April 24, 1904, more than 500 people came to the Mission for its first worship service.
Dugan’s heart went out to the poor, the homeless, and disenfranchised men and boys of the City of Charleston. He invited them to sleep in the old theater because they had no other place to stay. After continuing his mission work among the homeless at the Star Theater for 16 years, Dugan acquired the abandoned Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church at 474 Meeting Street, which is where the Mission has been located ever since. Following Obadiah’s death in 1936, his son, The Rev. Ernest Dugan, a Methodist minister, continued operating the Mission. When Ernest retired in 1973, a third generation Dugan, Ernest, Jr., also a Methodist minister, became its director. Ernest Jr. retired in 1986, bringing the Dugan family’s 86 years of leadership to a close. Under the direction of a Board of Director’s and the leadership of J. Douglas Donehue, the work of the Mission continued until his death in 2006. In 1989, Doug was instrumental in assuring the Mission’s survival and reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. Upon Doug’s death, The Rev. William Christian became the Executive Director.
Under his leadership, the Mission has continued to expand their influence in the community with the acquisition and development of additional transitional housing.
The Star Gospel Mission recently completed an extensive renovation of a house located at 83 Nassau Street. In addition to its main dormitory, this is the second transitional house of its kind containing four more studio apartments for men who have successfully navigated their way through the Mission, and now qualify for one of these beautiful apartments. It is the Board of Directors’ vision to construct an additional seven homes with 28 studio apartments on campus. With the continued generous support of the community, we hope to make this a reality.