Historic Rural Churches of Georgia
by Sonny Seals; George S. Hart
Having lived in the Deep South/Bible Belt all my life I've been inside a fair number of historic churches. Though I'm not personally Christian, I've always been attracted to the sense of peace and joy that emanates from these places that isn't present (for me at least) in their modern cousins. There's something to be said about a place of worship that has been standing for longer than you can trace your ancestry back.
This book is published by the University of Georgia Press, and was created by the founders of the Historic Rural Churches of Georgia non-profit. There is a deep love you can feel throughout the pages as you see the incredible preservations as well as the devastating ruins. The authors do an incredible job of providing history specific not just to GA generally, but also to these specific churches and the communities that worship there, or in some cases left the area and disbanded.
It took me quite a while to finish this book because I was trying to savor the stories and images from each church. The authors give a truly beautiful look at these rural churches that were so important to their communities. Buildings don't just spring out of the ground, people need a reason to build them and they also need a reason to preserve them. Even though many of the examples no longer have active congregations they have been restored. One can only hope that the few sad examples of near-ruin will also have a happy ending.
And with that, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite images from this incredible collection.
The author doesn't specify but considering the time period I would guess the galley was for slaves. You can also see the separation in the pews for women to sit on one side and men on the other. How far we've come... (Penfield Baptist - Greene Co - 1839)
Natural baptismal pool. (Powelton Baptist - Hancock Co - 1786)
In desperate need of love and restoration. (Ezekiel New Congregational Methodist, Ware County, 1899)
This is an amazing example of restoration potential. Before picture, then After. (Barnett Methodist, Warren County, 1876)
Copy courtesy of University of Georgia Press, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.