Known as one of America’s most beautiful churches, Christ Church offers a serene place of worship on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Surrounded by trees draped with delicate Spanish moss, Christ Church, an active Episcopalian congregation, is a tribute to the work of brothers Charles and John Wesley, those involved in the initial building in 1820, and those who reconstructed it after Union forces damaged it heavily during the Civil War.
Brothers Charles and John Wesley ministered to the early colonists at Fort Frederica. And it is to the memory of those early ministers that the church owes its beginnings in the parish that dates back to 1808. John was later credited with founding the modern Methodist church while Charles is better known for the creation of hymns such as the popular “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” (Information from ExploreSouthernHistory.com)
The church that you can visit today is the 1884 rebuilt structure with beautiful stained glass windows, white facade, and elegant steeple. Visiting in early January, we were able to see the traditional, natural Christmas decorations on railings and fences as well as on the doorway.
The cemetery is one of the oldest in Georgia, and often visitors want to see the grave of Eugenia Price, a noted local author (Beloved Invader, Lighthouse, New Moon Rising) who arrived with the notion she would write for a while in St. Simons but then fell in love with the area and became a permanent resident.
Across the road from the church is Wesley Gardens, a two-acre plot filled with over 60 varieties of shrubs and native plants. The centerpiece of Wesley Gardens — a towering 18-foot Celtic cross of Georgia stone — pays tribute to the work of the Revs. Charles and John Wesley.
We loved our time at both Wesley Gardens and Christ Church — a time to stroll quietly and almost alone. A time to reflect among the towering trees and along the peaceful walkways. It was a different feel to a coastal town experience. You leave the beach behind and just appreciate the almost silent time away from it all — a good thing on anyone’s Things To Do vacation list!
For more information:
Christ Church Tour of Homes (62nd annual event) will be held March 21, 2015. For information, click here.
Website with information on Wesley Memorial Gardens and Christ Church and Cemetery: ExploreSouthernHistory.com.
Website on Eugenia Price: http://www.gacoast.com/navigator/ep2.html
If you’re going there:
Christ Church and Cemetery, 6329 Frederica Road, St. Simons Island, Georgia
Church can be visited Tuesday through Saturday from 2 PM to 5 PM. Cemetery and grounds can be visited sunrise to sunset Tuesday through Sunday.
To view Wesley Memorial Gardens — park at Christ Church on Frederica Road and walk across the street.