Our History

Isle of Hope United Methodist Church was organized on December 18, 1851, on the mainland near the intersection of Skidaway and Bethesda Road, but was later moved to the "Island," called Isle of Hope. The site on Parkersburg Road was a gift from Dr. Stephen Dupon by deed dated June 29, 1859. The edifice was constructed from funds contributed by residents of the Island and the citizens of Savannah. The straight-back pine pews are the original pews in the church at its construction.

During the War Between the States, the Church was used as a hospital, ministering to the injured soldiers. Among those were 33 young volunteers from Effingham County who died and were buried in the Church yard. A contingent of Sherman’s Army used the Church as a camp during his occupancy of Savannah, and the original bell was melted to make cannon balls.

For 90 years, the Church was a “Circuit” and was served by a part-time pastor, who served various churches. During this time, horses and buggies were tethered in the church yard while services were held. With the development of the Island in 1950, a full-time pastor was appointed. The Sanctuary was moved to its present location beside the road in 1957. The present wall lamps were installed at that time and the building was painted.

In 1983, a major expansion of the Sanctuary was initiated. The planned expansion provided a vestibule, a new front porch, a hallway connecting the Sanctuary and the Cramer Building in the rear, a 24’ extension of the rear Sanctuary wall to allow for the addition of 9 pews, and a new copper roof. During the construction, all furnishings, including the original pews, chancel rail, lamps, and furniture, were removed and stored. The expansion was nearly complete when, on February 22, 1984, the structure burned due to an electrical fire, despite the heroic efforts of the Isle of Hope and Southside Fire Departments. Plans for rebuilding began immediately, and contributions poured in from all over the state. The present structure was dedicated, free from debt, by Bishop L. Fitzgerald on February 10, 1985. In 1998, two transepts were added, increasing the seating capacity by 200. The Sanctuary was also refurbished with new paint, carpeting, and the installation of a new Rodgers organ. On April 2, 2000, the renovation was dedicated, free from debt, by Bishop Richard C. Looney.

Isle of Hope United Methodist Church continues to be a symbol of beauty and inspiration, not only for those in the congregation but for the entire community. Throughout our past and into the future, Jesus is, always has been, and always will be our Isle of Hope in a world of hopelessness.