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Perry Methodist Church 1826

Although there were only twenty homes in Perry in 1826, a Methodist congregation was organized which resulted in the first church building in town being erected in 1827 on the site of what is now Evergreen Cemetery. It was a small frame structure without a bell or steeple; pulpit boxed-up and elevated; portable seats or benches; only a window here and there; and buttoned shutters instead of sash and glass, unsealed. The church was unpleasant in winter and summer. The first pastor was James Howard who was followed by James Dunwoody, J. E. Evans, and Samuel Anthony.

Although there are no records to substantiate this, it is thought that the second building of Perry Methodists was erected in 1846 when the town was formally laid off in streets. This building was located on the front half of the present church square and faced Washington Street. It was a wooden structure which was used until 1860 when additional land was purchased from John M. Giles to make the square as it is now.

Perry Methodist Church 1907

Construction on the third building was begun in 1860 but was not completed when the Civil War began. The architect was a northern gentleman, D. P Flandreau of Chester, NY, who brought to the task of planning and building the church careful training and genuine efficiency. Mr. Flandreau moved to this section and became so attached to its people that he cast in his lot with the southern folk and left Perry in 1861 with the Southern Rights Guard to fight in the War of the Sixties. Trustees in charge in 1860 were: Rufus Felder, Lewis M. Houser, James L. Turrentine, and John L. Birch.

Peter, a slave, who was sent north to study architecture for two years by his master, William M. Davis of the Mossy Hill plantation near Perry, carried out the completion of the church.

There are legends concerning the church’s first bell, but it's true story is unknown. According to the traditional story, this bell was shipped to Columbus, GA to be melted and used for cannon balls by the Confederates.

Regardless of its fate, the bell now hanging in the church’s belfry has engraved on its exterior: “Cast M. E. Church, Perry, Georgia, A.D. 1866 by Meneelys, West Troy, N.Y.” Also, it has “Meneelys Rotating Yoke, patented 1860” on its attachment ring. Perhaps this type of yoke accounted for the purity of tone of the bell.

Sad to relate, for this bell is cracked after many years of calling church members to worship services and of tolling for funerals.

This100-year old bell also served the entire community as a fire alarm bell until the early 1900’s.

Both the South Georgia Conference Society and the Perry Women’s Missionary Society were organized in December of1879 during the 13th Session of the South Georgia Annual Conference which met in this sanctuary.

In 1906 and 1907, under the pastoral leadership of T. E. Davenport and J. W. Arnold, the edifice erected in 1860-61 had its first re-modeling. About $4000 was spent on it. The architect was P. E. Dennis of Macon and the contractor, Sam P. Houser of Perry. The building committee was Fred M. Houser, L. F. Cater, W. B. Sims, and L. M. Paul. The church was lowered three feet. The front porch and columns were added. A number of Sunday school rooms were arranged in the rear of the sanctuary. Attractive stain glass windows were placed, and circular pews installed.

In the 1920’s, the basement was deepened by several feet and rooms for the elementary grades of the Sunday School built to take care of the children’s division.

In 1932, plans were made for a temporary educational building because money was scarce during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Under the leadership of the Rev. Herbert Etheridge, an annex was built on the south side facing Main Street to help meet the needs of the growing Sunday School where the average attendance of 138 surpassed anything in the history of the church at that time. $2400 was spent on this project. Trustees were W. B. Sims, T. C. Rogers, L. F. Cater, J. C. Mathews, and Sam A. Nunn.

The next building project took place in 1950-51 when a permanent annex to the sanctuary was erected facing main street after the temporary structure was removed. Plans for this building were begun as early as 1945 when government bonds were purchased for this purpose. Additional bonds were bought during the pastorate of Rev. J. B. Smith (1945-50) and earmarked for the building fund. Church records show that the Macon District Committee on Church and Parsonage locations met April 12, 1950, and approved plans presented by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Smith, for the erecting of a Church School plant at the Perry Methodist Church and the re-modeling of some of the present facilities to cost approximately $30,000.

The annex was completed in 1951 during the pastorate of Rev. H.H. Heisler. The architect was John Dennis of Macon, and the contractor, Harry Griggs of Perry. Mayo Davis was chairman of the building committee composed of George C. Nunn, Floyd Tabor, A. G. Hendrick, G. F. Nunn, Edward Mason, E. P. Staples, Paschal Gray, J. C. Mathews, T. C. Rogers, and W. V. Tuggle.

The cost of the annex was $28,794 and the improvements and repairs to the sanctuary amounted to $725.50.

In the 1950-51, the Church School had 475 enrolled with an average attendance of 241, and the church membership was 641. The M. L. Brown was general superintendent of the Church School.

Sims, Nate. “Perry Methodist Church.” Visit Perry, November 10, 2021.

Perry United Methodist Church.” Accessed May 19, 2024.

Church History, Membership Roll, Register, Minutes, 1827, 1885-1919 (Perry, Georgia) (Perry Methodist Church (Perry, Georgia)).” Accessed May 19, 2024.,_membership_roll,_register,_minutes,_1827,_1885-1919_(Perry,_Georgia)_(Perry_Methodist_Church_(Perry,_Georgia))


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