Israel CME

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Photography by Tony Cantrell

In 1867, a group of formerly enslaved people decided to leave the white Methodist Church south of Jackson Georgia to organize a church in the black community, known then as the Colored Methodist Church. They first met under a brush arbor on land that was donated to them.

According to their church history, “these bold men and women left the White Methodist Church as a result of the Civil War, the nature of slave religion, lack of policy regarding black members, the affected missionary efforts of Northern missionaries, and the desire for a separate religious institution where they could sing songs of Zion with feelings, pray prayers of confession, and enjoy the feeling of being a real part of the worship service.”

In 1868, they moved into a former Baptist Church building as their membership grew. From 1871 to 1888, their numbers grew so rapidly that it became necessary to tear down the old structure and build a larger one. In 1891 after much turmoil and debate, the present structure was built and the cornerstone was laid for the building, which the congregation still occupies today. This building was completed through the sacrifices of many members who gave freely of their labor and their funds to erect the chapel. As a result of their efforts over the years, Israel Temple is among the oldest CME churches in Georgia.

In 1894, Miss Penny Blount opened a school in the parsonage on the lot adjacent to the church in Jackson. By 1896, they had established a two-story building next to the church where black children were offered access to education.