Midway Congregational Church 1872 – Present

The Old Midway Congregational Church, two miles east on U.S. Highway 17, was formed by whites (Puritans & Congregationalists) when they settled in Liberty County. They were driven to church by their black slaves who were allowed to sit in the church balcony during worship. Eventually, these slaves became members and certain slaves, such as William A. Golden (Golding) became Selectmen. When slavery ended, white members abandoned the Old Midway Church Building. The Church’s governing body leased the building to the more than 500 newly freed slaves. This lasted two or three years until two influential former slaveholders said they would rather see the Old Midway Church burned to the ground rather than to have the former slaves use it. Thus, between 1867-1868, William A. Golding offered land, on which he and the members fashioned a “Brush Arbor” church by placing posts in the ground with poles on the sides and brushes on top. This place became known as “Golding’s Grove “.

William A. Golding, as the pioneering Congregationalist pastor and one of two freedman serving in the Georgia Legislature, petitioned the American Missionary Association (A.M.A.) to send a preacher to pastor the church and a teacher to lead a school. The A.M.A. responsively helped establish Midway Congregational Church and its Mission School at McIntosh. In 1872, Midway Congregational Church was formally organized by the Reverend Floyd Snelson, the first graduate of Atlanta Theological Seminary.

The first church building was completed and dedicated in 1874 largely with funds from the A.M.A. and the local church body. The school, named Dorchester Academy in 1877, was formally created by the A.M.A. (Congregationalists ) The new church building served as the Worship Center for the Academy and all assemblies, graduations, Vespers and special events occurred in church.

In March, 1877, The Church Bell was erected, purchased with the funds raised by “New England Friends.”

The initial church building was torn down in 1956 and Midway Congregational Church held Worship Services in the Dorchester Academy Center. The present Church Building was constructed in 1962 and dedicated in 1963.

On April 4, 1968, the A.M.A. ceded its authority to the newly formed Dorchester Improvement Association. Inc. The founders were:

1.*James A. Lewis, President

2. Rev. Charles A. Maxell, Vice- Pres.

3.*Herbert M. Turner, Chaplain, Ft. Stewart

4. * Milton P. Crenshaw

5. Clarence Williams

6. Jessie A. Stevens

7. Alfreta L. Adams

8.* Lillie W. Gillard

9.*William M. Walthour, Sr.

10.* Alberta S. Mullins

( * denotes members of Midway Congregational Church.) Mrs. Gillard was the longest serving member of the D.I.A. Inc. Board. Midway Congregational United Church of Christ remains the only existing link between this community and the A.M.A.; the first historical integrated abolitionist organization.

Dorchester Academy Marker (#2); Erected in 2004 by the City of Flemington.