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History Tourism: Churches of Newton County
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History Tourism: Churches of Newton County

When it comes to history tourism in Newton County, our churches offer important landmarks and destinations. Many of our churches are wonderful historic places that are just waiting to be remembered. They hold a treasure-trove of information for genealogy and history tourism.

From the days of settlement to the Civil War and the 20th century, the history of our local churches offers a glimpse into the past.

Our Oldest Churches

Our oldest churches have influenced the area since the time of settlement. Many have vanished over time but there are still a couple with a history dating back to the early pioneers.

Established in 1820, Newborn United Methodist Church is the oldest church in Newton County. It was built when Newborn was known as Sandtown. The first building was a log cabin, which was replaced by a more permanent structure in 1847. The existing building was built in 1902.

Founded in 1851, Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church also dates to the time of early settlement. A fire destroyed the original building in 1861 and it was rebuilt after the Civil War. The church is in the area of Social Circle that is locally called the “Brick Store Community of Hub Junction". You can visit the congregation anytime throughout the year, and during the season they have Christmas Music/Cantata on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 11am and Christmas Eve Service on Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 6pm.

Other churches have histories from early settlement, but they may have changed their locations. For example, Salem United Methodist Church was founded in 1824 and the first building was a log cabin built on a five-acre plot near what is now called Salem Camp Ground spring. Another building was erected between 1865 and 1870 in what is now Section One of the cemetery. These buildings are both gone and replaced with the present sanctuary and other buildings. If you’d like to visit Salem United Methodist Church during the holidays, the Cantata is on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 11am and the Christmas Eve service is on Dec. 24 at 6pm.

Church Hospitals During Civil War

The genealogy records kept in some historic churches are often the only sources to link family history, and for some these records also help trace the footsteps of their descendants and find family remains. The First United Methodist Church, c. 1854, and the "Old Church", c. 1841, are both early churches with a lot of history in Newton County, including their use as Civil War hospitals. If you have an interest in history tourism, you might want to search for Civil War connections. Both of these churches treated soldiers and may also have provided the gravesite in their cemeteries if the soldier succumbed to death.

In addition, the Old Church has historical significance leading up to the Civil War due to its differing views on slavery. Serving as the center for Methodists in the south, the church split, which contributed to the succession of the southern states. The Old Church is a historic landmark and does not have an active congregation. It has been restored and hosts tours, concerts, weddings, family reunions, and many other social functions.

The First United Methodist Church was one of many historic places spared in the downtown square when soldiers came to Covington during Sherman’s March to the Sea. If you are interested in visiting the First United Methodist Church during the holidays, they have Christmas Eve services on Tuesday, Dec. 24 starting at 5pm, 9pm and 11pm and Christmas service on Wednesday, Dec. 25 at 12pm.

A beautiful way of seeing our historic churches in Newton County is during the holidays. Churches bring the community together in amazing ways with celebration. To learn more about holiday services, please contact the church directly.

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