Hopeful Baptist Church, 1855, Burke County

It’s thought that this church was built by David Demarest, the architect of Old Mercer Chapel in Penfield and the Greene County Courthouse in Greensboro. It certainly harkens to his mastery of Greek Revival architecture. The congregation of Hopeful Baptist dates to 1815, when a church was organized on the lands of Alexander Carswell’s plantation. Three smaller less formal churches predate this structure. The pulpit is at the entrance to the church, in contrast to the layout of most houses of worship. A member told me that this was to insure that every congregant would interact with the preacher. A small section at the rear was used as seating for slaves.

National Register of Historic Places

Author: Brian Brown

Brian Brown is a documentary photographer, author, and historian who lives in Coastal Georgia.

5 thoughts on “Hopeful Baptist Church, 1855, Burke County”

  1. Fay Stapleton Burnett: Information from “The Hephzibah Baptist Association Centennial,” by W. L. Kilpatrick, published 1894: A church met at this location prior to Hopeful, known as Piney Woods. When Hopeful was established, the first building was of pine logs with the bark on; the second was of hewn logs; the third was a frame building ; the fourth was the current one completed in 1851 at a cost of $5,000. In 1865, the membership of this church was blacks, 56 and whites, 35. Mrs. Nancy Johnson, the mother of Gov. Herschel V. Johnson, is buried in the cemetery at Hopeful. “Hers was the first grave dug on the premises, and in accord with her dying request, it was so located at the rear of the house that the eye of the minister, as he stood in the pulpit, could rest upon it through the open door.”

  2. My family lived here in the early to mid 19th century and attended this church. Some migrated to Wilkinson County, but the larger group moved to what was then known as East Baker County in Southwest Georgia. In 1857, this became Mitchell County. These family members helped found a church , near the Flint River, and brought the name “Hopeful” with them, first for the church, and later for the community. You have some great pictures of Hopeful in your Mitchell County photos.

  3. I’ve driven by this particular church too many times to count. It is particularly strange that Google Maps places the church in the ZIP code of Blythe which is mostly situated in Richmond County). I grew up in Blythe, and this church is closer to both Keysville and Waynesboro (both in Burke County), I believe. There ain’t nothing like knowing the local lay of the land, to my own particular reckonin’, methinks.

    1. I drive past this every week what’s the story with the church on down winter road a little further that has signs posted about thieves?

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