New Hope Baptist was organized in November of 1830. The deed to the original land is recorded in 1833. According to church history ‘The first building must have been located near the lower edge of the cemetery. There appears to have been a shed on the upper side for blacks. This building was a plain house , possibly built of logs’. In 1856 a second house of worship was built across the road from the present site. It is marked by an original pillar and inscription. In 1878 a committee was appointed to have the building ceiled and glass windows installed. It stood until 1912 when it was torn down. The present building was dedicated in September of 1911. In November of 1875, the church granted letters to a number of black members who organized the Tabernacle Baptist Church located about a half mile away. New Hope is widely known for a lengthy father-son pastorate. John Hogan (1826-1903) served the church thirty eight yeards and the son, known as “Am” Hogan (1869-1938) served forty two years.
The sanctuary seen above, the congregation’s third, was dedicated in the early 20th century and reflects the relatively wealthy and sophisticated congregations’ tastes at that time. Architecturally, the church inside and out is best described as eclectic. In our Georgia travels so far, we have not encountered another church of the same design. In the photo above we see two, left and right diagonal aisles that originate at two outside entrances each sitting at the base of two, identical square steeple towers. The central isle originates at the front entrance which is located at the center of a columned portico. The pews, stained glass windows and interior decorations are firmly rooted in the “new”, 20th century as is the ceiling and wide curved moldings. The scene is inviting. Our subjective conclusion is that this congregation was modern and progressive at that time and wanted to show it. It still prospers in this small community today and regular services are held and well attended.
The cemetery is an old one and home to many former congregants, citizens and families. The variety and mix of the grave markers presented is evidence that this was an “egalitarian” burying ground for all classes. We find everything from a pile of rocks, a single field stone, simple marble or granite tablets on up to larger, more formidable, grand and expensive memorials. Above we see the Confederate States marker of John W. Bivens who served with the 15th Georgia whose birth and death dates are unknown. His son, D.J. Bivens, born just before the war in 1860 lies beside him. It is interesting to note the Masonic emblem on D.J. Bivins’ tilted and sinking tombstone. Many, many of these folks wanted their marker to tell a larger story than a simple birth and death notice. Rest in Peace.
Here are memorials to the Conner brothers of Lincoln County. Elisha served in Co. F of the 22nd Ga Inf. He was wounded at Gettysburg and Spotsylvania, captured in April of 1865. Jerimiah Conner served with the 1st Ga Inf, survived the war and died in 1883. Shadrach served in the 37th Ga and was killed at Chickamauga. William served in the 37th Ga and died on Jan 11, 1864 of unknown causes. Just another family torn apart in this tragic war.
In this black and white frontal view, the uniqueness of the exterior architecture of New Hope Baptist is clearly revealed. It is as if the architect wanted to demonstrate the styles of all three of the church homes at Liberty at once in an eclectic mix. The center, gabled element presents the simple “rectangular box”, single gable, plain-style sanctuary that was the predominant style of Georgia’s rural churches into the mid 19th century. On the other hand, the two matching, corner-steeple towers reflect a style that arose after 1850 and came to dominance in the late 19th century. The addition of a four columned porch in front of the gabled segment harkens to and creates a Greek Revival style which appears at random intervals throughout the era. In any case, this sanctuary is striking and attractive inside and out. The congregation of New Hope has been worshiping on this site for over 175 years and they are still going strong in this third sanctuary. Long may she reign.
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I have ancestors buried there at the New HopeChurch cemetery. I hope to visit soon.It warms my heart to see the church they attended or where it once stood , and where there final resting place is.
The Google map for New Hope Baptist church in Lincoln County seems to actually be pointing at Pearson Chapel in Tattnall County.
This is a really great site. And the photography is, in a word, superb.
Stan, thanks for the kind words and letting us know about the mistake. Fixed now.