Christ Church Frederica
Annual Tour of Homes

Other Historical Stops of Interest

In addition to the Homes on St. Simons and Sea Island, the Tour of Homes includes
historic stops of interest as listed below. 

 St. Ignatius Mission Church
 Wesley Memorial Gardens
Christ Church Frederica
Harrington School
Hamilton Slave Cabins

Morning Prayer is held daily at 8:00 am (except Sundays) and Holy Eucharist is celebrated at 5:30 pm on Saturday and 5:00 pm on Sunday. 

2906 Demere Road

SAINT IGNATIUS CHURCH was built in 1886, as a Mission of Christ Church, Frederica, for the African-Americans living on Saint Simons Island. Anson Dodge had Saint Ignatius and three other mission churches built on the island and, under his direction other Episcopal missions were built on the mainland. The hurricane of 1897 – recorded at the time as a cyclone – almost destroyed the little church, and it was rebuilt. Originally located off a little lane leading to Union Memorial (aka Stranger’s) Cemetery and facing East, St. Ignatius was rebuilt in 1898 on Demere Road, facing South. It is built in the traditional cruciform, of heart pine, which inside naturally aged to its present color, the same as Christ Church, Frederica.
The Lectern, Bishop’s chair, Priest’s chair, and Baptismal font were all donated by Lovely Lane Chapel. They were placed here when that church was de-consecrated and used as a recreation center. That building has been re-consecrated and is now Lovely Lane Chapel at Epworth-by-the Sea Conference Center. The stained glass windows behind the Altar were made in Philadelphia by the Willet Company. The hand depicts God the Father, the lamb depicts God the Son, and the dove depicts the Holy Spirit. The candlesticks on the Altar were brought from England in 1858. The bell was installed in the 1980's and is from the WWII Liberty Ship Henry Wynkoop. The reed organ was built circa 1900 and installed at Christ Church, Frederica in 1933. The original hand pump is still intact and the pipes are merely decorative.   For years, the windows in the Church were translucent, jalousie-panel glass.  Ten new stained glass windows were designed in 2000 by M.B. Keys, a parishioner of Christ Church Frederica, and made by the Wippell Company of Exeter, England. The Rt. Rev. Henry I. Louttit, Bishop of Georgia, blessed the new windows April 29, 2001.
THE ORGAN was originally in Christ Church, Frederica; a gift of the Berolzheimer family of Little Saint Simons Island and Stockton, California. It is a reed action pump organ. The original pump handle can still be seen on its side. When electricity came to the north end of the island the organ was electrified. It was placed in Saint Ignatius in 1959.


Established in 1986 to commemorate the ministries of John and Charles Wesley, the Wesley Memorial Garden offers a calm  retreat on Tour Day.  Dedicated in 1988, the two acre garden has as its focal point an 18 foot high Celtic Cross, sculpted from Georgia granite.  Gravel paths wind throughout the natural setting which has been impeccably landscaped to showcase some 60 varieties of 4,000 azaleas and other native shrubs.  The Garden is located directly across the street from Christ Church and is easily accessible for a short walk.



The church traces its origin to General James Oglethorpe’s landing with the first English settlers on St. Simons Island on February 22, 1736. After breakfast, a group assembled and joined in reading the Litany with The Rev. Benjamin Ingham. General Oglethorpe had established the first English colony in Savannah and settled this second colony at Frederica to protect the new colony of Savannah from the Spanish threat in Florida.

Three outstanding religious leaders of the 18th century were associated with the establishment of the church on St. Simons Island. The Rev. Charles Wesley, MA, entered his ministry at Frederica on March 9, 1736, two weeks after the landing of the first settlers. He served as Chaplain to General Oglethorpe and as Secretary for Indian affairs. Services were also conducted by The Rev. John Wesley, The Rev. George Whitefield and other clergy appointed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. These ministers were ordained clergymen of the Church of England by whom the Episcopal Church in the United States was planted and nurtured. After the return of the Wesleys to England, the evangelical revival eventuated in the origin of the Methodist Church in which John Wesley had the principal role.

In 1752, the Trustees surrendered their Charter to the King, and Georgia became a Royal Colony. In 1758, the Province was divided into parishes, and Frederica and St. Simons were designated as St. James Parish.

Following the Revolutionary War, the descendants of early settlers petitioned for a charter and were incorporated by an act of the State Legislature on December 22, 1808, as "The Episcopal Church in the Town of Frederica," called Christ Church. Land from the town of Frederica was also "Given, Granted and Secured To and For the Use and Benefit of the Said Episcopal Church."

The first church on the present location was erected in 1820, and the congregation worshiped in it until the outbreak of the Civil War. The Reverend Edmund Matthews, DD, who became rector in 1810, was one of three clergymen composing the Primary Convention for the organization of the Diocese of Georgia in 1823.

The Rev. Anson Green Phelps Dodge, Jr., rebuilt the church following its destruction during the Civil War as a memorial to his first wife, Ellen. The church was consecrated on the Feast of the Epiphany in 1886 by the Rt. Rev. J. W. Beckwith, DD, Bishop of Georgia. In addition to establishing an endowment for Christ Church, Frederica, Mr. Dodge built and endowed the Anson Dodge Home for Boys (closed in 1956), and established the Georgia Missions Fund for the support of missionaries and teachers in certain designated counties of the Diocese. This legacy still provides college scholarships for young men in the Diocese of Georgia.

The present church building is cruciform in design with a trussed Gothic roof. Stained glass windows, given as memorials, commemorate events in the life of Christ and the early history of the church on St. Simons Island. The Font was given to the church by the Sunday School of St. Thomas Church, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1884. Part of the Credence Table and an inset in the present altar are from the altar of the 1820 church.

In the surrounding churchyard are buried former rectors of the church, early settlers and their families, people who lived in the plantation era and island residents and church members from the early days of the 19th century to the present. Georgia’s first State Historian, Lucian Lamar Knight, is buried here. The oldest gravestone that has been discovered dates from 1803.

Sixteen rectors have served the parish since its beginning, ten of them since the building of the new church in 1884: The Rev. Dodge, The Rev. D. Watson Winn, The Rev. Dr. Charles Lee, The Rev. Joseph Walker, The Rev. Wiltshire W. Williams, The Rev. Lawrence M. Fenwick, The Rev. Dr. Edwin Bethea, The Rev. Dr. Junius J.Martin, The Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald and The Rev. Douglas Renegar. Serving for brief periods were The Rev. J. Sullivan Bond as Vicar and The Rev. Frederick Cousins, superintendent of the Anson Dodge Home for Boys, as supply priest.

The Florida Times Union, Jacksonville, Sunday, April 1, 1956
St. Simons Island Church Dedicates A Lich Gate

THE LICH GATE shown in the inset, an old tradition of the Church of England, will be dedicated today at Christ Episcopal Church, Frederica, St. Simons Island, Ga. Along with the wall built of old bricks in front of the church property, it will add color to one of the nation’s most historic churches.

The beginning of Christ Church coincides with the arrival of Gen. Oglethorpe at St. Simons in 1736. The congregation was established as a mission of the Church of England On Feb. 15 that year.

OGLETHORPE BROUGHT with him an ordained clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. Charles Wesley. The board of trustees had 300 acres of land set aside for the support of the minister and the church. Christ Church today stands on some of that. land. The first building for services was a combined chapel and storehouse built within the walls of Ft. Frederica.

Bibles, vestments, altar linens. Communion vessels and copies of the Book of Common Prayer were sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, a missionary organization. The society also sent the Rev. John Wesley, also an ordained clergyman of the Church of England, to Savannah. After Charles left Frederica, John visited there five times. It was after their return to England that John conducted the revival that led to the founding of the Methodist Church.

AFTER THE Revolutionary War, Christ Church and other churches that had been served by clergymen of the Church of England, formed the Protestant Episcopal Church, of America.

Christ Church was incorporated as a parish by the Georgia Legislature and given 108 acres of glebe land. The first church on this property was built in 1820. It was almost totally destroyed during the War Between the States. In 1884 the remains of the old church were torn down and the present building erected on its site by the Rev. A. G. P. Dodge Jr. in memory of his first wife, Ellen Ada Phelps Dodge.

THE LICH GATE was made possible by Ruth Reed Robbins, a faithful parishoner. Lich is a Scottish word which means corpse. A lich gate is a covered gate to a churchyard through which the corpse is carried to the church or burial place and where the bier is placed to await the clergyman. There are many lich gates in England, but only few are found in the United States.

It was the custom for pallbearers bringing the casket from the home to the church for last rites to pause at the gate. Staves were placed across two benches within the gate and the casket laid on them while the pallbearers rested until the minister arrived to lead the procession to the ‘church.’