Cedar Grove Methodist

Tattnall County
Org 1887
Photography by Randall Davis

According to the Methodist history, such as it is, Cedar Grove Methodist was organized in the home of one of the founding members in 1887. ‘ Soon a frame building with wooden siding and very high ceiling was built. The windows are very long and narrow with a center pivot so that they swing out horozontally, allowing the breeze to circulate top and bottom.’ It further states that ‘Its membership has gradually disappeared and in 1975 it was closed; reopened in January 1979, renovated and services begun by Rev. Bill Thompson. Rev. Bill Jones followed for about nine months; once again it is not having services. In 1982, it was listed on the Methodist roles with two members’.

These photos illustrate an all too familiar story. A once vibrant rural congregation slowly dies off, the church falls into disrepair and finally to ruin. Unless Cedar Grove gets some help soon….she is doomed. Our experience here at HRCGA tells us these treasures can be saved if there are three ingredients present i.e. a local group of people who are willing to get involved, a little bit of repair money and finally, an on-going use for the church so that it can be maintained. Accomplishing these three tasks is not as hard as it sounds. There are some examples of these churches being rescued such as Barnett Methodist in Warren County. Click here for the before and after story and photos. We are working with local communities to save these old treasures while we still can.

The most important of these three ingredients are the local citizens who are willing to make the effort to raise a little money and willing to manage the project. These old box churches were built using local materials and simple construction techniques. Basic repairs are not that expensive and sometimes people are willing to donate labor and materials if asked. The beautiful and haunting image above was built over 125 years ago and could still be saved. It is in remarkable condition given that the windows have been removed and no one is making any effort to repair the roof. Just keeping the weather out will buy years of extended life and, in this case, that means at least boarding up the windows and doing some minimum work on the tin roof.

What about the ongoing use? There are some rational answers…….a repaired and functional church can be non-denominational and just used periodically for various purposes such as reunions, old time religion day, weddings etc. Working together, local citizens interested in Tattnall County and Georgia history along with those in the religious community who value the history these churches represent could save Cedar Grove for generations to come. Another option is for a private owner who is willing to maintain it or move it for preservation to step forward. In either case, the church can be preserved and saved for the enjoyment and use of generations to come. We will keep you posted on developments regarding Cedar Grove.

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