Formed from the earliest Methodist congregation in Columbus, St Paul has played a key role in the spiritual growth and outreach of generations of Columbus families for over 150 years. The congregation of St Luke was actually the first Methodist Church established in the frontier town of Columbus, Georgia along the Chattahoochee River. It was not for another three decades from the founding of St Luke that the church’s congregation outgrew the guidance of its ministry. As a result, a second Methodist Church was formed in Columbus from the devout members of the elder church’s congregation. With the Rev. Dr. Lovick Pierce, the “Nestor of Southern Methodism,” leading the founding families, St. Paul was formed in 1858, with Lovick Pierce as the first pastor.
The first brick-and-mortar St Paul was completed in 1859 on the corner of Third Avenue and Thirteenth Street in downtown Columbus. It was a modest in size structure, built with all the fine architectural elements that characterized houses of worship during that time. Columbus families worshiped there for nearly half a century, under the leader of many influential ministers, before a lightening strike in 1901 forced the congregation to reimagine their dwelling of devotion. Their vision became a reality the following year, when a new structure was built in 1902.
The second structural St. Paul was built with significant heavenly inspiration. Workers crafted walls of brick and cut stone around colorfully illustrated stained glass windows, portraying the life and works of our Lord. The sanctuary was decorated with detailed carpentry. A high steeple overlooking the intersection of the church’s corner lot could be seen from almost anywhere in Columbus at the time. From this new church, the established congregation continued its ministry, which included a devotion to missions.
During the California Gold Rush, St Paul sent congregates to the mining towns out west to aid in the spiritual and physical conditions of the miners and their families. Many of the young men filling the church’s pews also departed for the battlefields of Europe during the First World War, and then again two decades later for the Second World War.
As Downtown Columbus underwent a commercial development period in the mid twentieth century, St Paul decided to move the church closer to where its congregants were living. The grand old church was humbled by the wrecking ball, and our current building was completed in 1952 at the confluence of Wildwood and Forest Avenues in the suburb of Wynnton. From this new location, the old and new families of St. Paul continue their outreach to the community. Locally, the church participates in clothing and food drives, sheltering the homeless, and supporting fellow Methodist congregations in the area. Mission work was also expanded to foreign lands. St Paul maintains close relationships with groups in the Ukraine, where Columbus members travel annually to aid in the heavenly and earthly conditions of God’s greatest conditions.
Written by Jack P. Schley
April 13, 2017