According to a church history – After a meeting in 1845 concerning the need for a church in the Prospect community of Warren County a group unanimously approved a building site on a tract of land owned by Amos Johnson. The land was purchased for $20 on February 4, 1846. Prospect United Methodist still stands on this original piece of land. The original building was begun in 1846 and completed by the end of the year. It was rather large and faced a northerly direction with two doors at the front and two doors at the rear. A cemetery was placed at the rear of the building. In 1878 a need arose for a school in the community. A decision was made to erect a school building on the church grounds. The new building had two large rooms connected by a double door. By opening the double doors the school became one large room. The school was known as Brinkley Academy. Professor Sterling Brinkley and Mrs. Jack Swain were the first teachers. The first term opened in January 1879 with 111 students enrolled. The school taught many subjects and even had a band.
After a school was built in a more convenient location in nearby Norwood, many students transferred from Brinkley Academy. A smaller school building was built and the original building was sold as a tenant house. In the mid 1920’s the school was closed and the smaller building sold. In 1879 a great revival was held and many wanted to be immersed, not sprinkled in the usual Methodist way. They went down to the creek, formed a pool, and were baptized. In 1879 a decision was made to erect a much needed new church building. The old building was sold to St. James church (a negro church) for the sum of $160. Proceeds from the sale and monies raised were used to build a new building. Mr J. W. Norton constructed this new building for the sum of $1,005, including the cost of materials. The first service in the new building was in January, 1880.
This beautiful building is still in use today. Due to the diligence of the congregation, it is remarkably well preserved. The siding is still painted wood and the bathrooms are in an adjacent building. The architecture still retains and reflects the setting of an 1880 church. Around 1880 the church purchased a new organ, much to the displeasure of one prominent member. Ironically, this same organ was played at the member’s funeral. In 1936 the church trustees sold timber on the property and used the money to build a porch on the church. Electric lights were not in Prospect church until 1952 when the kerosene and gas lamps were replaced.
In 1954 the church sold two acres of land for the purpose of funding needed renovations and repairs.
Just one look at the exterior and then into the interior(above) of Prospect Methodist lets you know this small, still extremely rural church is well loved and has been well taken care of by its members from the first day it was consecrated. Founded in 1846, the present structure was built in 1880, one hundred thirty-five years ago. Its condition in and out is remarkable. Though creature comforts have been added to accommodate its members, the interior of the church remains today much as it was when built. The large six over six, double hung windows still let the light flood into the sanctuary as in olden days. This sanctuary still welcomes its congregation for regular services and will do so for decades to come.
This view toward the chancel, pulpit and apse gives evidence of the present congregation’s desire to provide a lovely but still simple atmosphere in their old church. We see the chancel with its lovely turned balusters, a functional but not elaborate pulpit and a lovely apse whose bracketed and carved wood surround is tasteful and authentic to the late 1800’s date of the meeting house. We also see a modern, high-end Baldwin piano which no doubt accompanies these Methodists at every service. Music and congregational singing has always been in vogue among rural Methodists and, obviously, still is.
This old church still embraces the past while steadily moving forward into the future always aiming at accomplishing its primary mission, ministering to its flock. Above we see a 19th century, wooden Victorian style chair sitting on the carpeted floor beneath a tasteful, 20th century stained glass window. The photo was taken late in 2014, the 21st century. There are few rural churches in Georgia that can lay claim to the continuing success that Prospect enjoys.
Here lies Sgt. William Shelton, Co. H 22nd Ga Inf. William entered the service in August of 1861 as a private and served for four years, surrendering with the 22nd Ga at Appomattox with the rank of 5th Sgt. He was wounded on July 30 at The Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, Va. According to the Findagrave synopsis, he served as a Color Sgt. and the flagstaff he carried is on display at the Confederate Museum in Crawfordville. He returned to Norwood after the war and married Frances Newman, who bore him ten children. He served as Warren County constable in 1877 and was the county Justice of the Peace for fifteen years. Of the 187 documented graves at Prospect, 46 of them are from the Shelton family.
William C. Baker also enlisted in August of 1861 with Co H of the 22nd GA. He survived the war and surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. There are nine unmarked Baker graves that lie beside him. There are a total of 187 marked interments in the Prospect cemetery.
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