Union Methodist Church was founded in 1844 with the building being built and dedicated to the church trustees in 1846. The site of the church was on Lowground Road about half way between Midland Road and Bluejay Road in the southern end of Effingham County.
Union, one of the oldest Methodist churches, closed its doors in 1962. The 25-member congregation approved the closing at the June 17, 1962, quarterly conference. The members officially merged and became members of nearby Marlow Methodist, a church it founded years ago as a mission.
Ironically, according to Rev. Hamp Watson, pastor of the five-church Rincon charge, he attributed a shift in population as a factor.
“Where Union Church is situated (between here and Marlow) was once the center of a thriving farming community. Today most of the land is in tree farms. The only inhabited home within a mile of the church happens to be nearby, but mostly now the area has been turned into one big tree farm.”
As people have moved to other communities — in Chatham and Effingham counties — other Methodist churches have grown in the area.
Bethesda, also founded from Union as a mission, had 185 members in 1962 and was reporting growth and Marlow with 100 members to the south is also experiencing growth.
An unusual clause in the deed for the church property is that the plot on which the building rested must always be used for church purposes. A marker now occupies space on that plot. The remainder of the three acres of land had no restrictions. At the time when the article was written, the trustees had not decided what to do with the property.
At the quarterly meeting at Union, a former member of the congregation rose to say, ”Life for the Union Methodist has not ended…it is just going on with new vitality at other locations.”
Rev. Hamp Watson pointed out that he was speaking accurately about old Union’s vitality. During the past four years the church had gained 13 new members by affirmation of faith-but the membership had remained at about 25 because of those who moved to other more convenient locations.
Union members have compiled a list of nearby churches which have gained pastors or lay leaders through the little Effingham “mother” church. The list includes Methodist churches at Rincon, Springfield, Meldrim, Pooler, Garden City and four of Savannah’s largest.
According to those in the neighborhood, the property was sold after the church was torn down. A home sits on the site but the marker occupies space on the church’s former site. Lumber from Union Church was purchased by the Church of God in Faulkville to build a church building.
Prior to the official merger, the Union-Marlow congregations joined for a week of revival at Marlow by Rev. Tom Johnson of Savannah.
In telling of the former member’s insistence that “life at Union Methodist Church has not ended,” Rev. Hamp Watson paused and looked out of the window of his study and said, “Old Union never had its own cemetery.”
The information was provided by John Shearouse in an article from The Savannah Morning News in June 1962. Thanks also go to Thressa Morgan for donating a photograph of the marker on the church site.
Due to a computer failure, the Rahn pictures will be continued next week. I am looking for a photograph of Sarah Dasher Rahn, first wife of Thaddeus Madison Rahn. Please contact me if you have one.
This article was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have comments, photos or information to share contact her at 754-6681 or email: email@example.com