Tag Archives: Churches of Greene County GA

Pierce Chapel A.M.E. Church, White Plains

This historic congregation is located in White Plains.

New Bethel Church at Leslie Mill, 1894, Veazey

A newer church at this site is now in use, but the congregation has maintained this historic structure. I’m still searching for a history of New Bethel and will update when I learn more. An historic schoolhouse, associated with the church, is located on the property.

Springfield Baptist Church, Circa 1907, Greensboro

An historic marker placed by the church and the Georgia Historical Society in 2010 states: Springfield Baptist Church was established on January 27, 1864 prior to the abolition of slavery, and is among the first African-American churches founded in Middle Georgia. Enslaved workers purchased land from Mrs. Nancy Bickers and began monthly meetings. Levi Thornton, a slave, served as the church’s first pastor. Prior to the Civil War most local congregations were racially integrated, though blacks and whites sat separately. However in 1867 African Americans were dismissed from local congregations. At their dismissal, the white congregations presented Springfield with $200 to help build the current building…

Henry Porter, Frank Massey, Umply Stocks, and Jack Terrell were instrumental in the organization of the church. The congregation first met in the old Georgia Railroad depot in Greensboro. To my understanding, construction of the present structure commenced in 1907 and the bricks were salvaged from the old Greensboro Methodist Church.

National Register of Historic Places

Bethesda Baptist Church, 1818, Greene County

Bethesda Baptist is one of the iconic rural churches of Georgia and one of the greatest extant examples of vernacular Federal architecture in the state. The congregation traces its origins to 1785, when it was organized as Whatley’s Mill. The first structure was of wooden frame construction. Notably, Bethesda is among the oldest Baptist congregations in the state and the present structure one of the oldest surviving church buildings. The most influential Baptist of early 19th-century Georgia, Jesse Mercer, performed the dedication on 20 December 1818. In what would seem progressive by today’s standards, they licensed an African-American called Brother Sam to minister to members of his race in 1834 in a separate monthly service but revoked the right in 1836 over claims of “disorder”. Enslaved people of the community were required to attend church with their owners and the remains of the gallery are still visible in the church.

Bethesda is located in a rural area of Greene County near the South Fork of Little River on land given by Samuel Whatley. The original name of the congregation, Whatley’s Mill, honored his parents, who were killed by Native Americans trying to protect their lands from the white men. Silas Mercer was the first pastor and his son Jesse Mercer became pastor in 1796, serving for thirty years. The name was changed from Whatley’s Mill to Bethesda just before the dedication of the present church building in 1818. It remains a thriving congregation to this day.

Fork Chapel United Methodist Church, 1915, Greshamville

Organized by the Crawford and Wingfield families at the end of the Civil War, Fork (originally Forks) Chapel derives its name from its location between two rivers, the Apalachee and the Oconee. The first church was built soon after organization and was replaced by the present structure in 1915.

Bethany Presbyterian Church, 1872, Greene County

Historic Bethany Presbyterian Church Greene County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2015

Organized in 1786, Bethany was the first church in Greene County (Washington County at the time). This is the third permanent church home near this location.  In 1886, Dr. James Woodrow, an uncle of President Woodrow Wilson, was tried for heresy here in the first of the so-called “monkey trials” regarding the teaching of evolution. He was exonerated. The community which grew around the church was the setting for Tom Watson’s popular 1904 book, Bethany: A Story of the Old South. William Henry Sparks’ popular 1870 autobiography, The Memories of Fifty Years, begins around this church, as well.

Its historic cemetery seems almost magical in the presence of a majestic old oak, which has stood here for well over a century. (Seen to the left of the church, above). Below are examples of some of the oldest headstones, dating to the early 19th century.

Bethany Presbyterian Church Greene County GA Historic Early Members Cemetery Pioneers Headstones Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2015

Shiloh Baptist Church, Greene County

Historic Shiloh Baptist Church Founded 1795 Near Greensboro GA Greene County Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Organized near Penfield and first known as Town Creek, Shiloh traces its roots to around 1795. The date when the congregation moved to this location, near Greensboro, is unclear. One of the earlier chapels was destroyed by a tornado in the 1850s. The present church likely dates to the last quarter of the 19th century.

Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 1868, Greensboro

Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Greensboro GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Among the first members of the Church of the Redeemer were women who had fled the Civil War in Savannah and Charleston. In September 1863 the Right Reverend Stephen Elliott, first Bishop of Georgia, held the first communion with members in the home of Mrs. Philip Clayton. (Mr. Clayton had the distinction of serving as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during the administration of President Buchanan, and he held the same position in the government of the Confederate States of America.  After the war, he was considered a person of great integrity and served as United States Ambassador to Peru).

J. G. Barnwell of Rome was the architect and builder and on 14 June 1868 the church was consecrated by the Right Reverend John Beckwith, Bishop of Georgia. The first rector was Father Joshua Knowles. He served for nineteen years and, at his request, was buried with his wife by the side of the church in an area now known as “The Knowles.”

For a more comprehensive history: http://www.lakeoconeeepiscopal.org/about-redemmer/history/

Historic Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Greensboro GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

National Register of Historic Places

Greensboro United Methodist Church, 1911

Greensboro GA First United Methodist Church Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

From the First United Methodist Church of Greensboro website: The Methodist Church as an organization in Greene County dates back to 1797, six years after the death of John Wesley, when Bishop Francis Asbury appointed 28 year old James Jenkins Pastor of the Washington Circuit…

During the early years in Greensboro, Methodists conducted Worship services in the Presbyterian Church where Bishop Asbury preached in 1799. A log meeting house was built around 1799-1800 on Laurel Avenue. During 1825-1826, this log meeting house was replaced with a frame structure on the same site. The frame structure was later moved to a location on Broad Street just west of the current Broad Street Campus. In 1859, the frame structure was replaced with a brick building at a cost of approximately $8,000. Because of increasing train traffic interrupting Worship services, planning for a building at a new location was started in 1908. The present Broad Street Campus church was built in 1911 at a cost of approximately $23,000 and expanded/renovated in 1959, 1973 and 1994.

Buckhead Historic District, National Register of  Historic Places

First Baptist Church, 1904, Greensboro

First Baptist Church Greensboro GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Greensboro Historic District, National Register of Historic Places