This is the original sanctuary of Sardis Methodist built in the late 1840’s. As you can see, the sanctuary has had some loving care and maintenance over the last 160 years or so. Some needed improvements have been made over the years but the congregation has made a concerted effort to respect the history……and especially so with regard to the interior. The church was built by Joseph Sessions and his young nephew, Benjamin Franklin Barge. Mr. Sessions donated the land along with some of the building materials and lots of labor by the local community of Trotman. A local history states that some of the material was brought in from Richland by ox cart. Virtually all of the interior is original and a feast for the eye.
According to the local history, the church had fallen victim to termite damage and dry rot in the late 1970’s and the congregation was faced with the decision of rebuilding or remodeling the church. A building committee was appointed to look into the situation and make recommendations. Fortunately for all of us, the committee recommended the renovation and restoration of the church. With donations from members and friends of the congregation and a grant of $ 3,000.00 from the Committee on Missions and Church Extension, the major work of the renovation was accomplished in 1982. As much of the original material as possible was utilized. A narrow, wooden porch extending the width of the building and similar to the original porch was added. The interior was painted and light fixtures of a design which would have been in style during the nineteenth century were installed.
Sardis Methodist is just a wonderful role model for us all in that it is in a very rural location, surrounded by stately oaks and cotton fields. The congregation has always been small, but that did not stop them from protecting and preserving their rural heritage…..and they are still doing it, with monthly services for the congregation that is supplemented with more than a few visitors. The Barge family has been very instrumental in this effort and the cemetery contains several Barge interments. Benjamin Franklin Barge, one of the founders mentioned above, is the oldest of these (1810 – 1873). The Findagrave site states that ” Benjamin was a Soldier in the Creek Indian War in 1836, starting as a Lieutenant then commissioned as a Captain”. The Creek Indian war was the result of General Winfield Scott being sent to Alabama to deal with several episodes of violence and remove the last of the Creeks from Alabama to the Oklahoma territory. Mr. Barge also served in the Civil War, enlisting in April of 1864 at the age of 54. The Barge roots go very deep in this part of Stewart County and we are grateful for their service.