The local church history tells us that in 1867, a group of formerly enslaved people decided to leave the white Methodist Church south of Jackson, Ga to organize a church in the black community. It was 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.
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, familiarly known as the CME Church, was organized December 16, 1870 in Jackson, Tennessee by 41 former slave members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Composed primarily of African Americans, the CME Church is a branch of Wesleyan Methodism founded and organized by John Wesley in England in 1844 and established in America as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784. The CME Church has more than 1.2 million members across the United States, and has missions and sister churches in Haiti, Jamaica and fourteen African nations.
Israel Temple CME Church is a very beautiful as well as historic church. It has been lovingly cared for by the congregants since 1867. We are so grateful for their stewardship and preservation of this historic structure. Be sure to click and scroll on the photos below for more information about Israel Temple CME.
The front view of New Israel CME reflects the simple architecture and dignity of the sanctuary. It has been unchanged now for over 125 years. The church is an elegant example of vernacular architecture. The overall plan and exterior is symmetrical, creating a harmony between form and materials.
These double doors clearly reflect the design expertise and construction skills of the local community in 1891. All aspects have been lovingly preserved and maintained. The entrance is located within the steeple form and features a pair of 6 panel "Christian doors" with a broken pediment and arched transom window.
As you walk into the sanctuary, you are welcomed into a long narrow footprint with ambient light flowing in from both sides. The interior continues the symmetrical theme with a central aisle flanked by wood pews leading to a raised pulpit and recessed apse.
Everything about the New Israel interior, reflects the simplicity and dignity that was designed into the original structure. Truly a house of the Lord.
More evidence of the design and construction expertise of the original builders. Here the recessed apse features arched molding and trim.
The six over six opaque windows light up the sanctuary with a diffused glow that reacts with the original wood flooring and the pews in a remarkable way. The double hung windows accentuate the vertical appearance of the church.
More of the lighting as it interacts with the original flooring and the carpet. All work together to create the simple ambiance that is the hallmark of the church.
The simple oak chairs behind the podium signify the holy trinity.
The church cornerstone is another indication of the respect the congregants have for their history. Their stewardship of this history is remarkable and will serve to inform new generations. Israel Temple CME is truly a historic treasure and we are so grateful for that stewardship.
Your tax-deductible donation to Historic Rural Churches will help keep history alive through digital and physical preservation efforts for Georgia’s rural churches, their history and the communities that support them.
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