Sugar Creek Baptist
Sugar Creek Baptist has a great history with a surprise ending. A local history, written in 1992 gives us a lot of facts about the church history. It tells us the church was organized in 1806 with fourteen members and that the original site of the church is now “buried under the waters of a farm pond on lands currently owned by the J.O. Strange family”. It also tells us that in 1831 a great revival was held from September until December 24 resulting in the reception of 189 new members. Total membership was then 235, making it the largest church in the area…obviously a very successful revival.
The church remained on the original site until late 1900, but the Morgan County courthouse deed book shows the deacons of Sugar Creek Baptist then bought the land “where Weaver Academy now stands” for the sum of ten dollars, and the old church was moved to the Weaver Academy property. However the property was very small, only 3/4 of an acre, and in 1909 the church purchased 1 1/2 acres and relocated to this site around 1910. Sadly, fours years later tragedy struck in the form of a fire that destroyed the church. The present church was then built in 1915.
The surprise ending begins when the church was scheduled for demolition in 2016. The congregation felt that they could no longer afford the upkeep of the old church and needed the space for other purposes. At the last minute Dr. Ellis Johnson and his wife Crystal, with the encouragement of the Madison – Morgan Conservancy, came to the rescue. The Johnson’s are the owners of Hundred Acre Farm, located less than a mile away. They made an arrangement with the congregation to buy the church and move it to their farm for a new home as a wedding chapel. You can get a good overview of the farm here. You can also check out the moving process in the photo below. Not only did the Johnsons rescue the church, they then embarked on a renovation effort to return the sanctuary to a semblance of its former glory. You can see the results in the photos below.
According to Mary McCauley of the Conservancy, the congregation was originally made up of both black and white parishioners, but split in 1867, just after the Civil War. “It tells the story of our settlement and rural lifestyle,” she says. “That simple, small, quaint building is a visual reminder of a way of life. Once those images are gone, the story goes too, since there’s nothing left to remember it by.” We could not agree more and we applaud the commitment of the Johnsons and the Conservancy who have saved this important part of early Georgia history for the benefit of all of us. From a quote by Christine McCauley, Director of the conservency – “That 100-year-old building tells the story of Morgan County’s humble beginnings. Like that story, the building is not flashy and ornate, but rather a simple rural church. Our tendency as a community is to protect the big old white house with columns or the Romanesque Revival school, or the courthouse. But to preserve the full spectrum of Morgan County’s history, preserving buildings like Sugar Creek Church is equally, if not more important.”
Well said and thank you to all involved.