First African Baptist Church of Harris Neck was organized by Reverend Andrew Neal in 1867.
Tag Archives: Churches of Coastal Georgia
Located on the opposite corner of the intersection of the E. B. Cooper Highway and Barrington Ferry Road from First African Baptist Church, First Zion was established by members of the “Mother Church” in 1870-1871 with the Reverend U. L. Houston as its first pastor. The present structure was built in 1971 during the pastorate of Reverend B. N. Jones. The churchyard is a beautiful spot shaded by old-growth oaks.
The First African Baptist Church of Riceboro is considered the “Mother Church of all Black Churches in Liberty County”; the present structure was built in the 1960s to replace the original church. The community, just west of Riceboro, is locally known as Crossroads.
A marker placed by the Liberty County Historical Society notes: The First African Baptist Church, the oldest black church in Liberty County, had its origins in the North Newport Baptist Church, founded in 1809. In 1818 the North Newport Church, composed of both white and black members, purchased this site and erected a church building here [circa 1849] which had a gallery for the slave members. In 1854 the North Newport Church moved to Walthourville, but the black members in this area continued to use the old building. In 1861 the black members formed their own church organization and the first black pastor was the Reverend Charles Thin. On July 20, 1878 the North Newport Church sold the building to A. M. McIver for $225 for use by the First African Baptist Church.
One of the early white pastors of this church was the Reverend Josiah Spry Law to whom a cenotaph was erected here in 1854 by both blacks and whites.
Three other neighboring churches have been formed from the membership of this church: First Zion Baptist Church in 1870, First African Baptist Church of Jones in 1896, and Baconton Baptist Church in 1897.
A marker placed by the Liberty County Historical Society in 2003 notes: Founded in 1809, the North Newport Baptist Church has had several homes over the years. In 1923, the Church moved to this location and in 1952 the Church voted and renamed the church Walthourville Baptist Church. The original Church did not have a building of its own, so it shared facilities with the Sunbury Baptist Church. In 1864 the church building was burnt by General Sherman’s army as a signal for gunboats anchored in the channel. Before the building was burnt, the original Bible of the North Newport church was saved by members of the church.The present sanctuary was built in 1923. This building has two unique features; solid brick walls and a theater style floor made of heart pine. In 2000 the original tray ceiling and pine floor were restored.
A revival meeting in 1938 led to the formation of a Baptist congregation on St. Simons Island. What began as a small group grew rapidly over the next decade and by the time First Baptist Church was dedicated in 1947 there were over 200 members.