Friday, February 10, 2012

Some of the Beautiful Churches on St. Simons Island, Ga




Built by Norman W. Dodge in 1880 and named St. James Union Church, the chapel is now the oldest church building on St. Simons Island



In February 1736, James Oglethorpe and the first English settlers arrived on St. Simons Island. Shortly thereafter, in March 1736, Reverend Charles Wesley, who also served as Secretary for Indian Affairs and Chaplain to General James Oglethorpe, entered his ministry at Frederica. From 1736-1766, the first religious services on the island were conducted by John Wesley, George Whitfield, and other clergy members of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. When the Trustees surrendered their charter to the king in 1752, Georgia became a royal colony. It was after the Revolutionary War, in 1808, that Christ Church was founded. Though inspired by such men as John and Charles Wesley, the small St. Simons Island population was prevented by the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, among other factors, from erecting a church building until 1820.

Following a petition for a charter by descendants of early settlers, Christ Church was established by an act of the state legislature in 1808. It is the second oldest Episcopal Church in the diocese of Georgia. Before the actual church was built, people met at their homes. The first church building was constructed in 1820 on the same site where the present church is now located. In 1823, Christ Church of Savannah and Saint Paul Church of Augusta merged together. The first small church building lasted until Union Troops damaged it so badly that members of the church had to have service at their homes once again. The church was rebuilt in 1884.
The first rector was The Reverend Edmund Matthews, who served before, during and after construction of the original building. The only island church, it was attended by people from the 14 St. Simons plantations. As the center of community life around which religious and social life revolved, its loss during the Civil War was a terrible blow for islanders. In 1862 the church was desecrated and virtually destroyed. A way of life and a strong refuge were lost, so the families lovingly dismantled the remaining structure, saving what they could. Salvaged were the four-columned credence table base to the right of the altar and some pews having carved crosses on the ends, most now located in the choir. The congregation then cleaved together, meeting to worship in homes and receiving Holy Communion from occasional visiting clergymen. These devoted people are buried behind the church, and many of their descendants are present-day communicants.
What remained of the first altar was incorporated into our present altar in 1884 when the church was rebuilt on the cornerstone of the original building. Shipbuilders constructed the new church, cruciform in shape and resembling in design an inverted ship’s hull, denoting the ship of faith. Our Mother Church, Christ Church, Savannah, originally loaned the Communion rail, two clergy chairs and pulpits for a period of ten years, but we still have them!
Christ Church is a gothic style building with a tall belfry and narrow stained glass windows. The stained glass windows, given in memory of loved ones, commemorate the early history of the church and St. Simons Island, as well as incidents in the life of Christ. For example, one window shows the ministry of John and Charles Wesley at Frederica under live oak trees. The ship that brought John from Savannah is seen in the background. Another window celebrates the founding of Georgia by General James Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe is shown with the Native Americans, Chief Tomochichi and his son. Still another window with a biblical scene has been authenticated as an unsigned Tiffany masterpiece. The largest window, designed and executed in Germany in 1899, is dedicated in memory of Reverend Anson Green Phelps Dodge, Jr., who rebuilt Christ Church.
Deacon Anson Green Phelps Dodge, who later became rector, built the new church as a memorial to his first wife. The Italian marble bust at the rear of the church, carved by the American sculptor Birdwell, is of Anson Dodge as a boy. The large stained glass window above it was given in 1898 by Rebecca Dodge, Anson’s mother. This Meyer window, from Munich, Germany, shows Peter, James and John with Jesus, in whose halo are depicted pearls, symbol of salvation worth more than all Earth’s treasures. Our baptismal font was a gift of Anson Dodge’s former Sunday School class in the northeast. 
At the age of twenty-four, the Reverend Anson Dodge funded and built four other churches on the island: Transfiguration at the beach; St. James at Epworth for mill workers (now re-consecrated as Lovely Lane Chapel); St. Perpetua at German Village; and St. Ignatius on Demere Road for the black families living in the area, who frequently had their own black minister and teacher. All were missions of Christ Church. When St. Ignatius closed as a mission in the 1980’s its remaining membership and that of Christ Church were merged. Daily Morning Prayer and Sunday evening services are still held there today.
 This is a fairly new Church on the Island but it's beautiful...It's Wesley United Methodist Church. a

I will post more of them later...

I want to thank all of you who have joined my blog.  I am enjoying getting to know each of you....I hope you have a great weekend....

Hugs and blessings,
Nancy

17 comments:

  1. our youth group used to go to St. simons each year...a great getaway!

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  2. I have been to St. Simmons - I am a Methodist too. Do you live near there? Love the teaching of John Wesley.
    Love, sandie

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  3. Happy Friday Nancy, Loved seeing these beautiful churches. I love old country churches and we take photos of them when we vacation. Thank you for sharing; blessings on your weekend.
    Love, Noreen

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  4. We visited St. Simons Island twice and loved seeing the old churches both times. Thanks for sharing these pictures.

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  5. Hi Nancy nice to meet you too. Thank you for visiting my blog and for taking the time to leave me a sweet note.
    I enjoy seeing churches especially older ones with such great history. Thank you for sharing.
    Blessings,
    Sue

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  6. The stained glass windows are so eye-catching.

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  7. So beautiful . . . thank you for sharing! I have never gotten to see them, but now I have through your eyes! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

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  8. Hi Nancy - often when we drive through the little towns on our various trips I see these beautiful churches and always wish I'd taken a photo. Well, you have inspired me to stop next time and do exactly that.

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  9. Hello Nancy!

    All I can say is "Beautiful Churches with lovely hanging moss" You've made my day!

    xo
    dulcy

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  10. I have never been to St. Simons Island, but it sounds like a place I would enjoy exploring!

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  11. I love real stories about real places, which is probably why I'm so kean on history. What fun to hear about the life behind the structures - and beautiful structures at that!

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  12. Great post and lovely pictures. The history info is fascinating.. thanks for posting and I look forward to seeing more church photos.

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  13. Beautiful pictures of the churches. I love to visit old churches and read about them.

    Have a wonderful weekend. ...Marsha

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  14. I loved pictures of beautiful churches. And how nice to learn more about their beginnings. You have a wealth of history in your area. Keep posting!

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

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  15. Your photography is beautiful, Nancy. You did take the pictures? I am a history buff, and really enjoyed seeing the photos and learning the history behind each building. Our nation has a lot to be proud of and sadly, some things to be ashamed of, as we all do. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  16. What a beautiful place and what history. That is one of the places I have always wanted to visit. Your pictures are so pretty.
    I can't wait to see some more pictures.

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  17. I love the old country churches too. Great pics! Love the big trees in the second one. Keep shooting :)

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I am so glad you stopped by for a visit.....Thanks for your comments and I will be over to visit you soon....