Church History A Short History of St. George Island UMC

A Short History of St. George Island UMC

The Story of St. George Island United Methodist Church

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20

The history of the St. George Island United Methodist Church mirrors the growth and prosperity of the lovely barrier island on which it serves as a tribute to the Lord and His bountiful gifts. From humble beginnings under a thatched arbor in 1971, summer seminary students under the direction of Reverend Leslie Shirley and later Reverend David Day, began the task of spreading God’s holy words to visitors and locals alike. Although the thatched arbor is no longer a physical reminder of the early mission days, the deep roots of fellowship still exist in the hard work and dedication of Christ’s family on St. George Island. As the island has grown, so has the mission field of island residents and visitors.

Service at “The Arbor” circa 1980

A more formal approach to Bible study and worship was needed, Reverend Don McMillan, the pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Apalachicola, worked with the Islanders to establish a home study program in November 1984. The home Bible study program shortly led to Sunday worship under the summer home of Ken and Marcie Collins on 12th Street West. Islanders pitched in with donations and hard work to make a lovely sanctuary on the bay for Sunday worship, Bible study, and special overnight guest speakers. The location was perfect for baptizing Rickey Chestnut and the memorial service for Mr. Lucky, both former Islanders. Others who committed their time, energy, and service to the Lord were Claire and Hamp Dews, Don and Barbara Hartsfield, Beau and Ester Suber, Betty and Tommy Day, Inez and Theron Tuton, Bill and Mary Tuton, Debbie and Rickey Chestnut, Carlton and Norma Ethridge, Darryl Ethridge, Muriel and R.L. Bryan, Christine McLean, and Tom and Jean Gross. The devotion of Jackie and Don McMillan to the call for worship on St. George Island will never be forgotten.

Not bad for a former fish market!

In 1988, Claire and Hamp Dews offered their octagon building and five lots on Gulf Beach Drive as a permanent home for the Methodist Church on St. George Island. Because the church was still under mission status, a non-profit corporation, The Arbors, was established to manage the growing assets. With growing pains came the need for more space. Harry and Nell Landrum graciously donated their former summer home for Sunday School and fellowship hall. The “Sand Pebbles” also served as a meeting hall, pastor’s office, guest house, and nursery.

The “Sand Pebbles” annex served a variety of important functions for SGIUMC

In 1992, the church was chartered at the Annual Conference. Shortly after that the fellowship hall was constructed and dedicated as Dews Hall and the memorial prayer garden was created in memory of Mary Gene Bailey. With the new facility in place, the “Sand Pebbles” was sold.


St. George Island UMC was chartered in 1992


In 1996, a lot was purchased for building a parsonage. A new parsonage was then built on Porter Street.

Today the church welcomes all to “Come as you are, God loves you that way.” The symbol of the lighthouse represents the mission of the church to be God’s Light for the community and beyond. Under the Pastoral leadership of Reverend Brian Brightly, and an active growing membership, the church ministries continue to grow.

….and so, the journey continues.

The Prayer Garden was created in memory of Mary Gene Bailey


Click the link to download a PowerPoint presentation detailing the history of  St George Island United Methodist Church