St. Paul Primitive Baptist

Terrell County
Org Unknown
Photography by Steve Robinson

Almost Gone But Not Forgotten

We know very little about St. Paul Primitive Baptist church, located in rural Terrell County in Southwest Georgia. Decayed churches like St. Paul are a sad, but all too frequent, reminder of the hard life and struggles that were associated with those parishioners who were trying to carve out a life for themselves and their children in a post Civil War land that lay in ruins.  African American churches like St. Paul emerged all across the south where sharecropping was the primary way of life in an agricultural economy that would slowly diminish as Georgia began to develop cities and an industrial base.  As a result, many African Americans participated in a mass migration to the cities and the industrial centers of the north to seek a better life. For those that stayed, life was hard but the church sustained them as the center of spiritual comfort and social interaction.

We are fortunate that our photographer was able to capture these images of the deserted church back in 2016.  The sequence of the photos below are moving images that remind us of this pattern of our history that is so important yet so difficult to document.  The last photo in the sequence was taken in 2018 and inspired us to create a new category we call “Almost Gone But Not Forgotten”.  Much of this rural church history that is now rapidly fading is very difficult to find, but we are hopeful that some will emerge as a result of the publicity that we can generate.  We encourage comments below and any contributions someone might be able to make. We do not know when St. Paul was built or when it became inactive and abandoned. It is old and our guess is that it dates back a hundred years or so. Shortly it will be completely gone without a trace. But although she is almost gone, she is not forgotten.