Smyrna Methodist

Wilkes County
Org 1785
Photography by Scott MacInnis

Smyrna Church was organized by two Presbyterian ministers in 1785. For a number of years there was no church building and the members worshiped in their homes or under brush arbors. Sir John Talbot, an Episcopalian, had moved to Wilkes in 1783 to occupy his land grant of 50,000 acres. During the 1780’s he had been disappointed to find no Episcopal Church to attend. In 1788 he decided to affiliate with the Presbyterians and worship with them. In 1793 he deeded two acres of land to the Presbyterians. A church made of logs with a gallery for slaves was erected that year, and Reverend John Springer, the first Presbyterian minister to be ordained in Georgia, became its first pastor.

By 1820, the church had not thrived and membership had fallen to just 15. Those congregants decided it best to transfer their membership to the more successful and active Washington Presbyterian church and offer their building to the Methodists who soon had a flourishing Society there. During the 1840’s, the Presbyterians and Methodists held union camp meetings annually on the church grounds under brush arbors.

In 1860 the Methodists decided to demolish the log structure and build a larger frame structure. That church was remodeled in 1883 and stood until 1911 when the present structure was built. Smyrna is still, in the 21st Century, an active and vibrant member of the community. The Smyrna cemetery is one of the most historic in this section of the state. Here lie Sir John Talbot and his son Matthew, President of the Georgia Senate in 1811, 1817-22 and briefly as Governor of Georgia in 1819. Also present are Revolutionary War officers and War of 1812 officers as well as soldiers of every other war in which the United States was engaged in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries.