Patrons and Friends, since its inception, has welcomed all members of the Columbia community regardless of race, creed, age, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic status. And, Patrons continues to distinguished itself by having had free admission for all events.
In 1991 Mr. James H. Johnson replaced Ms. Cloninger as Ebenezer’s Minster of Music and assumed the role of coordinator for the series. Soon thereafter, corporate sponsorship, heavily relied on as a main source of funding, began to dwindle. Although the series was now firmly established and had been well-received in the community, there were serious concerns for its future. However, through the generosity of individual donors and Mr. Johnson’s creative scheduling, Patrons survived and continued to provide outstanding cultural events to the community and beyond.
Shortly after Mr. Johnson resigned in 2008, the nationwide economic downturn began and the future of Patrons was in jeopardy. However, in August of 2009 when Thomas J. White was appointed, he assumed the oversight of the concert series. He continued Mr. Johnson’s creative approach but in addition, he opened up fresh avenues such as the introduction of a strong worship and arts component and by the use of more local talent (including musicians from Ebenezer’s talented congregation) Patrons continued. In 2015, Mr. White moved from Columbia and his position at Ebenezer and a national search brought Mr. David E. Turner to Ebenezer. Mr. Turner’s renowned musical talents and community leadership experience bolstered the foundation of Patrons and set the series on a course for renewed growth and solid financial stability. The legacy of Patrons and Friends of the Arts at Ebenezer is well known and respected in Columbia and throughout the state and has been a model for many other churches. As it has been from it’s conception most all events sponsored by Patrons and Friends of the Arts at Ebenezer, Inc. still remain free and open to the public.