Madison FUMC History

History of Madison First United Methodist Church

First United Methodist Church was founded in 1807 on the 30-point Apalachee Circuit. The first minister was Rev. Lovic Pierce, later made Bishop. He served this church twice with an interval of some 20 years between. In 1808 the church was put on a 2-point circuit, first with Monticello, then with Eatonton. The first church building was erected in 1808, but the site has not yet located.

In 1825 the Georgia Legislature granted the congregation the lot on which the present Episcopal Church stands. A white frame structure was built there and was replaced in 1844 by the present brick church. The old frame building is used by Clark’s Chapel Baptist Church. The Church was part of the South Carolina Conference until the formation of the Georgia Conference in 1836. During the 1840’s the Georgia Conference met in Madison since this congregation had one of the largest and finest church buildings in the state. Mr. Shaw, one of the members, boarded one preacher and four horses for the conference.

In 1849 the Madison Female Institute, which had a building where the Episcopal Parish House stands today, was founded largely by Madison Methodists. It was one of the oldest girls’ colleges in the United States, and was in operation until the War Between the States. The building was used as a Confederate hospital in 1864-65. It burned in 1869. Among the founders were Wilds Kolb, builder of Boxwood; Calib Key; and Lucius L. Wittich. Among the teachers were Mrs. Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge, who tells about it in her diary, published by the University of Georgia Press. Rev. Henry Bellah was president at one time.

The third, red brick building was dedicated by Bishop J. O. Andrew in 1844, the year the Methodist Church split over the slavery issue. A slave named Kitty, who occasioned the split, belonged to Bishop Andrew. There is one old communion service dating to the 1870’s and silver and pewter collection plates dating even earlier.

The North Georgia Conference was held in the old church in the 1880’s. Among the former pastors, in addition to Lovic Pierce, were John Wesley Talley (ancestor of one of our members), Dr. Alexander Means (then president of Emory College, Professor of Chemistry at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and Atlanta College of Medicine), A. M. Speer (one of the founders and trustees of Wesleyan College), William Parks (“Uncle Billy,” a beloved circuit rider), and Simon Peter Richardson (who tells about Madison before 1900 in The Lights and Shadows of the Itinerant Life, his autobiography).

There was a Juvenile Missionary Society in 1902. This society was a founder of the Woman’s Missionary Society of the North Georgia Conference.

The present building was erected in 1914 in the Akron style, which was in use from about 1910-1925. The shape of the Sanctuary is square. The grouping of windows, the dome and the square shape of the Sanctuary get their significance from the Book of Revelation. The building was dedicated by Bishop Warren Candler. The crosses in the brickwork of the eaves are of the Byzantine style. The stained glass windows are American and were made in the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The flower in the windows is a Tiffany trademark. In 1983 the windows were repaired and a protective covering placed over them. The woodwork in the church is mahogany veneer. The pews were given by Martha Wade Goddard, and were refinished in 1988.

The first organist was Miss Mollie Pou, later Mrs. Broughton. Instrumental music was so controversial that when the first organ was purchased and used, one gentleman always put cotton in his ears.

In 1915 an organ built by the Austin Organ Company was installed. This was a gift of Mrs. Sallie Johnson Penn. The organ was rebuilt for the first time in 1987, and was increased from 10 ranks to 11 ranks, with 28 stops and over 1200 pipes.

To accommodate a need for a larger choir loft the 1915 Austin organ again went under extensive renovation in the summer of 2000. The organ was removed, the ranks reconfigured and augmented to 42 additional digital ranks. The original console was replaced with a 3 manual Rodgers digital organ and separated from the façade. The Arthur E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company in Lithonia, Georgia completed the pipe and digital combination organ in October of 2000.