Burke County, Georgia – Hopeful Baptist Church has been on my list to photograph for a while. Last Saturday morning I finally got to visit this beautiful antebellum church. This is actually the 4th church building, and it dates to around 1855. The church remains active and I can’t wait to visit again. Lots of interesting history here!
Hopeful Baptist was established back in 1815, on land of the Alexander Carswell Plantation. This was nearly frontier land back in those days, and even today it’s in a quiet area of Burke County. While the first three church buildings were simple log structures, times changed. Build between 1850-1855 at a cost of $5,000 this Greek Revival style church reflects the great wealth in the area.
An interesting tidbit – the granite steps to the church are from Stone Mountain! They were sent by railroad to Augusta, and then carried here on oxcarts. That’s about 26 miles on oxcarts!
The church has two sets of doors, as was the standard of the day – one for women, one for men. The doors are wide, to accommodate the fashionable hoopskirts of the day. The altar is at the doors, which is not a common arrangement. Lots of theories on “why”, but many say this was to make sure everyone got to speak to the preacher. The church reminds me a lot of one we went in last year, Big Buckhead Baptist Church, which isn’t too far away.
When I saw the monument below, I was curious to learn more about James Hall Tanner Kilpatrick. So many accomplishments, and he was an original Trustee of Mercer University. One account of his life included this statement “As a preacher, he was always instructive, and would sometimes enchain you for two to three hours with his eloquence”
What I love about this church, it continues to thrive today. I missed the Fall Festival by about 3 hours – next time, I’m there! Thanks so much for reading the blog today.