Union United Methodist

Bulloch County
Org 1790
Photography by Randall Davis

You are looking at a church that has been in continuous service for well over 200 years at this same site. The church was organized in 1790, making it the oldest Methodist Church in Bulloch county, as well as one of the oldest churches in the Georgia backcountry in continuous use at the same site. Methodism had only been active for about twenty years in Georgia prior to the formation of the Union Society. The church was first organized in the home of Joshua Hodges, a Revolutionary War soldier and one of the original settlers. Joshua came into the Georgia backcountry with a large family from Martin County, North Carolina and this family would become active stewards of the church for generations.

According to several histories in the Methodist archives, the first structure on the site was a log meeting house built in 1792. In 1834, a new structure was erected and described as ‘a plank structure that rested on log pillards with a steep roof and four evenly spaced windows’. This building was then replaced in 1884 by the present structure with materials furnished by two brothers, Jim and Tim Davis, who operated a lumber mill in the area. All three of the churches were erected on the same site. According to Union tradition, some of the pews in the new building were used from the old 1834 sanctuary as well as some of the parts for the alter rail. A local farmer and carpenter, Robert W. Stringer, is credited with fashioning the altar rail and the remainder of the pews.

At the time of the Civil War, many of the church records were dispersed among the membership for safekeeping. Some of these records were placed with the Porter family and have survived. This part of Georgia was not dominated by large plantations at the time of the war but there were black members in the church. The 1844 rolls, for instance, show that there were five white males, fifteen females and five black members. In 1859, the roster shows only three white males, and nine black members. Union church would always remain a small church because of her location. There was no nearby town or community and the church was solely dependent on local families who farmed in the area, which makes her survival as a continuous sanctuary even more remarkable.

Sherman’s troops did move through the area during the March to the Sea and local tradition has it that the church was saved from any damage primarily because it has also used as a meeting house of The Free and Accepted Masons of Lodge Number 213. Union is one of the few surviving churches organized in the 18th century with continued service to the same community in the same location into the present time. For this reason, the church is a historical treasure and we are so grateful to the people who have served and maintained the little rural church now for over 200 years. Thank you for you service and your stewardship.

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