Celebrating its sesquicentennial this year, New Hope A. M. E. Church was founded by former slaves on 4 August 1869. It’s the oldest black church in Guyton and among the oldest A. M. E. congregations in Southeast Georgia. The original members, mostly the families of carpenters, farmers, turpentiners, and millers, had been members of Methodist churches and sought to build a congregation and community. The neighborhood came to be known as Sugar Hill.
I had the good fortune of meeting Mrs. Pearl Powell Boynes, who graciously invited me inside the church with my camera. She was a delightful lady who has a background in history and great reverence for her ancestors’ contributions to New Hope. The above photo of her great-grandparents, George (born 1828) and Eve McCall, graces the vestibule of the church.
Reverend W. H. Wells was the first pastor. The church was built with rough-hewn lumber joined with wood pegs and square nails. Originally, the exterior was covered with hand-carved shingles and the walls made of hog-hair and cement plaster. Some of the shingles remain on the exterior. The chandelier in the middle of the sanctuary has been a prominent feature since around the turn of the century. It was originally gas-powered.
The hand-carved pews have been in use since the church was completed.
National Register of Historic Places