Trip report: Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble

A couple of weeks ago I joined a day tour that was going by bus to 7 abandoned and rural eastern Georgia churches. We were told we would receive a short program at each of the 7 churches on the 120 mile trip, plus lunch, and all the photo ops we’d want.

mt zion preacher reenactor porch

It was all they had advertised, and more. The organizers, Lake Oconee Chamber of Commerce plus chamber organizations among 5 counties (that we’d travel through) set this new tour up so well I can’t say enough good. Here is their official website explaining the outing. They have by now added photos of the ramble.

Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble
The inaugural Historic Pews and Pulpits Ramble in rural east Georgia was huge success. The tour originated and terminated in Greensboro and featured seven Historic Rural Churches of Georgia. The 53-person group examined and photographed the exteriors and interiors of each rural church, while hosts at each location shared histories through lecture, song, and period costuming. Photos from the day are featured below. A second tour is being planned for the fall. For more information complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.

I loved it. It was so interesting to get a perspective of each of the congregations and their impact during their time. Some churches were organized in the late 1700s, and others in the 1800s. If you click on the links below, it will take you to a short write up from Historic Rural Churches of GA site on each church.

We visited

Wrightsboro Methodist in McDuffie County
Antioch Baptist in Taliaferro County
Locust Grove Catholic in Taliaferro County
Penfield Baptist of Greene County
Mt Zion Presbyterian of Hancock County
Powelton Methodist of Hancock County
Barnett Methodist of Hancock County

Here is a link to my Flickr album of all my pics of the churches. I wish I could insert a photo album or a slide show into a blog entry on WordPress, but I can’t figure out how to do that. If anyone knows, please let me know.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/esiena/albums/72157685144692155

The Chamber is already planning another Ramble for the fall. This summer one was sold out, 53 people plus several Chamber workers and a couple of the historians attended so I think the bus was at capacity at nearly 60. It only cost $45 which was a steal for a 7 hour tour, 7 programs (one at each church), plus lunch and snacks. The participants were given a charming booklet of all the churches’ blurbs, held together by a woven gold tassel. The edges of each page were even gilt! They also provided to us a gift bag of chamber materials, booklets, and golf balls. Wow.

booklet

The weather cooperated. It was overcast the first half, which was great both for summer temperatures and taking photos. The last church or two it started to get hot, which is an issue because of course none of the churches are air conditioned. But it was all good. The bus had AC 🙂

It was sad to see the state of decline of some of the churches, abandoned and neglected, their congregation having drifted away or died. Other churches, though abandoned, were carefully being restored by volunteers with a connection to the church, whether loving its history or having had family who grew up in it.

Overall though, the empty church buildings showed me that churches come and go. Some lucky ones lasted over a hundred years. Other churches died when the railroad went in another direction, or its people simply drifted away to Atlanta or other greener pastures.

The seven letters to 7 churches in Revelation show us that Jesus is intimately involved with his local congregations. Some congregations die because they deserve to, some die because they have gloriously served their eternal purpose. However the church triumphant is eternal. Every saved person who had attended one of these historic churches, whether it was 1793, 1899, or 1950, will be in heaven praising the Lamb who raised up his home church, in which he or she had served Him of the everlasting Gospel.

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Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble: My upcoming excursion

The Warren County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a historic church tour in eastern rural Georgia. I signed up with a friend and I’m so excited! Here is what it involves:

Georgia’s Classic South Region is hosting a historic church tour called the Historic Pews and Pulpits Ramble on June 16, 2017. The bus will depart from the Greensboro Home Depot at 9 a.m. and go through rural east Georgia. There will be seven stops along the way to tour historic churches tucked away but not forgotten. Not only will you get to go inside the churches and hear about their humble beginnings, you’ll be inspired by songs and words from some of the chancels and pulpits.

At each stop there will be a 30-minute presentation of the history of the church, the area, and some hymns. The Sacred Harp Singers of Atlanta will be part of the presentation at Wrightsboro Methodist Church!

Here are the 7 churches we will be visiting on the Heritage Tour:

Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, Sparta
Powelton Methodist Church Sparta
Antioch Baptist Church, Crawfordville
Wrightsboro Methodist Church, Thomson
Barnett Methodist Church, Norwood
Locust Grove Catholic Church, Crawfordville
Penfield Baptist Church, Union Point

Some of the churches are two hundred years old…the one with the towers was built by freed slaves…some are still in use, others in disrepair…it’s exciting and interesting. I’ve never been to this part of Georgia so it all will be new.

The tour goes from 9-3 on a Friday in mid-June. There will be lots and lots of photo opportunities the write-up says and I can see that this is true. I will need to bring lots of batteries for my camera!

I haven’t gone on a tour or excursion in almost ten years, so I’m very excited for this. Pray for good weather on June 16!

Information about Harp Singing, AKA Shape Note Singing, this historic form of singing hymns unique to the south (though it flowered briefly in New England prior to the Revolutionary War, it died out and was revived down south). Here are a few photos I took of a Harp Singing in Athens at the Botanical Gardens from 2007,

Yippee!