Hopeful Baptist

Burke County
Org 1815
Photography by John Kirkland

Hopeful Baptist Church has a rich history. According to the church history, the original property for the church was likely part of the grants given to Alexander Carswell by King George III in 1773. Mr. Carswell also acquired land through American Revolutionary War service. Part of this tract of land became known as Hopeful Plantation and, since several members of the Carswell family are buried in the church cemetery, it is reasonable to assume that the land came from their plantation.

Between 1815 and 1855 there were four buildings built on this location to house the church. The first house of worship was of pine logs with the bark on, the second was of hewn logs, and the third was a frame building called ‘Piney Woods’. The building standing today is the fourth building, and was built between 1851 and 1855 at a cost of $5,000.00 in the pure Greek Revival Architectural design. It is majestic in scale and very unusual for a rural church in the Georgia back country. The size of the sanctuary and the quality of the construction attest to the wealth that King Cotton was bringing to this part of Georgia in the pre-Civil War years.

The sanctuary has been incredibly maintained and is a great testament to the durability of Georgia long-leaf, yellow pine. Hand-made, square-headed nails were used in the structure. The steps are made of granite from Stone Mountain, Georgia that were shipped by Georgia Railroad to the Grovetown/Augusta area, and then hauled by ox cart to the church site. The church doors were made wide in order to accommodate the ladies fashion of that day…….large hoop skirts. When it was finished, it was said to be the most magnificent rural church in Georgia. The steps, doors, door knobs, pews, high pulpit and many other items are original. The church is in a very rural location and certainly attests to the prosperity of the planters who built this magnificent edifice. According to church records, there were 91 members in 1865 (56 white and 35 black). As was common in the post war south, the black members separated in 1867 to build their own church, Second Hopeful Baptist Church, which is active today.