New Hope United Methodist Church
In 1843 members of the Watts Methodist Church, Cochran Mill Road and Carroll Methodist Church, Palmetto-Roscoe Road, united to form the New Hope Methodist Church, approximately four miles west of the community later named Palmetto.
The first church was built of logs by the members and was used until 1858. The first ministers to serve the church were John W. Yarbrough and Ephraim Pennington, local preachers. The oldest, legibly marked tomb in the church yard cemetery is dated 1851.
The charter membership was comprised of the families of Grant Roberts, William McGhee, Wiley Steed, Jacob Hearn, Kenney Hearn, Berry Watts, William Davenport, William Andrews, Elisha Smart, Wiley Hopkins, Jesse Ballard, Dr. Pernel Skeen, Tom Longino, Bill Davis, Stephen Shell, James Carroll, John Redwine, Eli Reeves, John Floyd, Eli Bailey, Ephraim Pennington, Sion Steed and John Conder.
In 1858, under the pastorate of the Rev. M. H. Hubbard, the log church was replaced by a larger frame building near the same site. The Rev. Absolom Longino preached the first sermon in the new building and his grandson, the Rev. Frank Longino, preached the last some seventy-nine years later.
Sabbath (Sunday) school was organized before 1865. After being closed for short periods of time, the school was reorganized in 1875 with J. T. Longino appointed superintendent. Sunday school was and is a vital part of the church today. Vacation church (bible) school has been a part of the educational program since 1947 and is open to the community.
During those early years, the Rev. Stephen Shell organized the Epworth League, the Sunday evening fellowship for all ages. The League was disbanded for a number of years and was reorganized in 1926, with Jim Robinson serving as president. This active group served both Methodists and Baptists in the community. In 1950, under the leadership of the Rev. Worth Sweet, the Methodist Youth Fellowship replaced the Epworth League. Ann Shell was the first president of the new organization which served youth ages 12 – 23.
The Woman’s Missionary Society was organized in 1932, the first president being the pastor’s wife, Mrs. C. M. Rogers. Presently named the United Methodist Women, this organization supports missions on the local, conference, national and international levels while enriching the spiritual growth and personal friendships of its members. In December, 1953, this group began sponsoring an annual Golden Age Christmas Dinner, honoring men and women of the community who have passed their seventieth birthdays.
The Methodist Men’s Club was originally formed in the late 1950’s and was reorganized in 1976 with Larry Kessinger as president. Through the efforts of this group a picnic pavilion was built and the church parking lot was paved. This club continues to unite its members in a bond of Christian fellowship and pride in their church through local missions projects.
The present main building consisting of a sanctuary and three church school rooms was erected in 1936-37 across the road from the two previous buildings. The Rev. Hubert Dodd was the pastor. In 1940, new pews were installed and in 1948 new pulpit furniture was dedicated to the memory of Clyde Bearden and Winston Shell, members who lost their lives in World War II.
The first of three additions was completed in 1950, consisting of church school rooms, kitchen and fellowship hall. A home for its pastors was constructed in 1961 with the Rev. Malone Dodson and his family being its first occupants. A second wing of church school rooms and restrooms was added in 1963 while the Rev. Hal N. Brady, III was pastor. The third addition including church school rooms, restrooms, large kitchen and fellowship hall was added in 1980 while the Rev. Lloyd Jones was pastor. The existing steeple, donated by the Shell family, was added in 1986. We continue to improve God’s house and added the beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary in the summer of 2007.
New Hope is proud of her heritage, having many members who have become leaders in other churches throughout Georgia. Two great bishops of the Methodist Church were influenced by the early fellowship. Bishop James Andrews was the brother of William Andrews and Mrs. William Davenport, charter members. Bishop Blanton Parks was raised in the neighborhood. In 1916, George T. Shell, grandson of Stephen Shell, charter member, was admitted to the North Georgia Conference and served as a minister until his death.
Since the founding of New Hope, more than 100 different men and women have served as pastor or associate pastor.