Historic Rural Churches of Sumter County, Georgia

There are four historic, rural churches in Sumter County, Georgia according to www.hrcga.org website.

Friendship Baptist

Friendship Baptist, built in 1857 and located in northwestern Sumter County, is the oldest standing church in the county. There is also a schoolhouse on the property.

St Marks Lutheran

There are very few Lutheran churches in rural Georgia. St Marks Lutheran originated in the 1860s by German immigrants who moved here from South Carolina. The church was built in 1870 in the community of Botsford, located about five miles west of Plains. Since then, there has been a private restoration and the church has been moved and restored in 2010 by Ernie Culpepper.

New Lebanon Baptist

It is considered almost gone but not forgotten. It is is sad disrepair and looters have made it worse off than it would have been had it just been impacted by the elements. There is not much history known on this church. It was thought to be an African American church. The only elements that even tell that it was a church was the cross that is still standing on the steeple and a small sign that was still laying on the floor that read “Read Bible Daily”. Other than that there are obscenities all over the decaying walls.

Plains First Baptist Church

Now this church is a stunner! Just an absolute beauty; the stained glass is phenomenal! This church did not begin where it is or as its current name. Lebanon Baptist church originated in 1848. This was the third building that was built for the church and it was finished in 1906. In 1909 the name was changed to Plains First Baptist Church to reflect the church’s final resting place.

Plains, Georgia

While you are near downtown Plains (a few blocks away from the First Baptist Church), you need to take a short visit. There are some antique shops, a cafe and Bobby Salter’s Plain Peanuts and General Store that you can get the best peanut ice cream. If you haven’t had the ice cream, it is a must try (as long as you don’t have any allergies to nuts).

The downtown is very quaint and has some murals you can visit. There is also Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters Building, the train depot, butterfly garden and Billy Carter’s Service Station. There are other historical points around the area such as the boyhood home of President Carter, The schoolhouse, and others throughout the local area of Plains.

Take advantage of every moment to get out there and find what makes you happy. I love wandering with my camera, find what makes you happy.

If you want to see some other Historic Rural Churches that I have visited please visit https://sosarah.net/2020/10/27/travelers-rest-methodist-phillippi-primitive-baptist/ and https://sosarah.net/2020/10/23/youngs-chapel-methodist-church/

To more exploring



Traveler’s Rest Methodist & Phillippi Primitive Baptist

Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

The Historic Rural Churches of Georgia are located all around the state; I laid out the entire state of Georgia (on a map) as far as where and how many churches are located in each county.  It made it much easier for me to see what was nearby and what I could group into short road trips, as I am not familiar with where all the counties are located.  I needed the visual assistance.  Then I routed out 3 road trips; one was short and I planned on doing it on a weeknight after dinner.  I spoke to a friend of mine and she decided she wanted to go with me on these trips too.

Twin Churches Road

We left right before 5:15 pm from Perry.  We first drove to Montezuma (Macon County) to see Traveler’s Rest Methodist.  Traveler’s Rest Methodist and Traveler’s Rest Baptist are both located on Twin Churches Road.  They were often referred to as twin churches.  The Baptist Church though has been updated by its membership to a magnificent new building.  They might have once been twin churches, but now they are very different and could no way be mistaken for twins.  These churches are located right in a large working cemetery.

Traveler’s Rest Methodist

Traveler’s Rest Methodist was in quite disarray.  The brush and trees have grown up all around the church and the back of the church has also caved in.  The walls are marked with graffiti. Also one of the towers on the front right of the church has fallen down.  There is a path that leads down the right side of the church all the way down to a few different graveyard areas.  From what I have read, there was a “white” and “black” graveyard located there, but I couldn’t tell enough by what was written on the gravestones to know what was where.  There were quite a few that were hidden way back in the brush, so I can only assume that there were even more that I couldn’t see at all.

Traveler’s Rest Methodist originated sometime around 1835.  The town of Traveler’s Rest became well known in the 1830s and 40s as a haven for those travelling from Macon to Albany and then down on to the Gulf travelling down near the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers.  The members of the church included the planters from many miles away.  There was talks of Travelers Rest being on the railway, but in 1951, a rail stop was built in Oglethorpe instead.  This led to many leaving Traveler’s Rest and the town dwindling away.  There are many parts of the history of the Methodist Church’s history that cannot be found. Historic Rural Churches of Georgia lists this church as Almost Gone but not Forgotten.  You can read more of its history at their website.

Phillippi Primitive Baptist Church

Next stop was on to Schley County to see Phillippi Primitive Baptist Church. This church is located about a half mile down a dirt road.  It has a cemetery that has a chain link fence around it as well.  Phillippi Primitive Baptist also originated in 1835, but it is in much better condition that Traveler’s Rest Methodist.  This church is also listed as Almost Gone but not Forgotten; however it has much more life left in it when compared to the one at  Traveler’s Rest.

Phillippi Primitive Baptist Church’s history is preserved in old church minutes that still exist.  According to its history, it was once the largest church in the Upatoi Association with 125 members and 5 ordained elders.  The last service was held in November of 1978.  Phillippi Baptist surprisingly is in good shape to have been abandoned for over 40 years.

We arrived to Phillipi just as the sun was going down, so had to do some magic with the cameras to get a few photos, but a tripod and long exposures helped to record this historical relic of times past.

If you didn’t see my post from Young’s Chapel Methodist, check it out here!

I have two more day road trips planned for the next two groups of churches. Hopefully will be able to get on the road soon!

Until the next explorations, make sure to see the ordinary as the extraordinary! See the beauty right in front of you!



Young’s Chapel Methodist Church

On the hunt for all the Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

A while back, a friend and fellow camera club member mentioned that she was photographing historic rural churches of Georgia.  This got me on the hunt to find some too.  With COVID-19, we are still social distancing, so I have been doing a lot of exploring close to home in Georgia this year.  I thought searching for all the historic rural churches would be right up my alley.

There is a great website that lists the rural churches around Georgia www.hrcga.org.  First, I set out to find something that was relatively close to home.  I wanted to be able to make a few hour trip one day after work.

Young’s Chapel Methodist

The first church I set out to see was Young’s Chapel Methodist. It is located in Ben Hill County just outside of Rebecca, Georgia. The drive from Perry to the church was a peaceful drive and there were beautiful barns and historic homes all along the way, not to mention fields of Georgia snow (i.e. Cotton). You do have to drive on a dirt road for about 1.3 miles off the paved road.

Dirt Road that the church is located on

I wasn’t sure where the church was situated and where the sun would be at sunset, but my goal was to make it in time to see the sunset. The church sits with the back to the west, so the sun set right behind it over the vast expanse of fields.

Young’s Chapel Methodist was built around 1875, renovated in 1971 and then closed its door in 1974. The members of the congregation had dwindled down to 8 people by then. The shift in industry led people out of the area, and there just wasn’t enough people in the community to warrant the church to stay operational.

Natural Disaster hits

There was a group of locals that had a plan to restore the church, but in 2017, a tornado hit the church and damaged the back wall. Once the tornado hit, all hope was lost on the restoration project. The damage the church sustained was too much to repair. Luckily, a local had removed the pews out of the church sometime before the tornado to ensure they would not be damaged by vandals.

When I read the story about this church, I knew that this church might not be there when I got there, but I was hoping I would see some of it. I was not sure if any of the structure was standing.  There is no telling how much longer anyone will be able to bask in the beauty of this rural historic church.

Young’s Chapel Methodist Cemetery

Young’s Chapel Methodist had its doors opened for almost 100 years, so just imagine the stories of revivals, baptisms, prayers and worship that took place there. A cemetery is located behind the church in which some of the Young family was laid to rest.

There is a piano inside, that was the most beautiful piano I’ve ever saw.  Most people would like to see a shiny grand piano, but I on the other hand like to see things that were used for many years. I love to imagine all the memories made here.

This church, sadly, could collapse at any time. I am so glad, I got to see it and photograph it. I hope that these photographs will be enjoyed as much as I enjoyed taking them. The sun setting behind the church over the cotton fields was just stunning.

Take advantage of the time we have

I have learned throughout the years to take advantage of seeing everything when you get the opportunity because you never know when could be the last time you can visit. People ruin these beautiful places, natural disasters take place, and other events happen that take away the privilege to get to see them.

Leave no trace

When you visit these historic rural churches leave no trace. Take out what you take in and most importantly be respectful of the church and the people who have memories there.

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation

Robert Kennedy

Check out the smallest church in America from our Coastal Georgia Road trip!

On to the next church.