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Easy Trip: Religion as a Expression of Cultural Values

Attend four religious services in one weekend to

experience the wisdom and celebration of Savannah

Take a moment to think about what you can do on a weekend here in Savannah - services at Congregation Mickve Israel at 11:00 on Saturday morning, early Sunday Mass at 8:00 am at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, mid-day Sunday services at Asbury Memorial Methodist at 11:15 or First African Baptist Church at 11:30 and then evening Folk Mass at Sacred Heart Church at 6:00 pm.

You are away from home and no one will recognize you and no one expects you to join up - so you have an interesting opportunity to visit a religious service different from your normal routine.  You may find yourself in a service that is in some way much more conservative or much more liberal, than what you have at home.  We have asked a resident theologian to give us some perspective on how the various congregations compare in this way.

Our experience of being white, is that we are warmly welcomed at the services of black churches - such as First African Baptist and First Congregational.  We feel that visitors who are black or gay will be warmly welcomed at the predominately white congregations identified as liberal below and possibly others, but we are not sure which.  If you have an experience outside of these assumptions, please let us know.

We all know that, at least in the South, many of us are tightly defined by our religion.  In Savannah while you are visiting you have a special opportunity to temporarily step outside of your routine at home and be a part of a service not of your persuasion.  There is great architecture and a rich diversity of religious experiences available in or close to the Historic District. We have listed some examples for adventuresome souls.  We hope you step out of your old comfort zone and use a religious experience as a way to learn more about Savannah.

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Most Liberal

Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church, 1008 E. Henry St. (at Waters) 233-4351

Reverend Hester recently rode a Harley Davison fat boy motorcycle down the isle to the pulpit. I guess his early days as a NY actor as still there. www.AsburyMemorial.org  Possibly the most liberal Christian church in town. Services at 11:15 am.

 

Congregation Mickve Israel 700 Drayton St. 233-1547 services on Saturday at 11:00 am

www.mickveisrael.org Most liberal of the synagogues, that makes it one of most liberal of all religious organizations here in town, except for maybe Asbury Memorial above.

 

Unitarian Universalist Church, 307 E. Harris St., 234-0980, 11:00 am  www.UUSavannah.org  Discussion and coffee follows the service. Most progressive/liberal religious institution in savannah- at least in their own mind!  But not in the same category as the Christian denominations. Leases space to a gay organization. Has an interim minister.

 

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1802 Abercorn St., 232-2074, 8:00 & 10:00 am. www.StPaulSavannah.org  Very socially liberal, but the liturgy is very high church, smells and bells, very catholic feeling; the rector there is a progressive man, we hear.

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Prominent Black Congregations

First African Baptist Church, 23 Montgomery St. 233-6597, Services at 8:30, 11:30 am

Considered by many to be the oldest black church in North America; formed in 1777; slaves carved their initials in pews; a stop on the underground railroad.

 

First Bryan Baptist Church 575 W. Bryan St. 232-5526, services at 11:00 am

Could be the oldest black church - the debate continues.

 

First Congregational Church - United Church of Christ, 421 Habersham St. 236-6521. Unlike many of the UCC churches around the country which are the most liberal Christian denomination as a whole its UCC but a pretty theologically conservative black church, we think.

 

Connor's Temple Baptist Church 509 W. Gwinnett St. 232-8291

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Progressive to Middle of the Road

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 222 E. Harris St. 233-4709. 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 am. A very dramatic structure recently restored; open for tours during the week.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension, 120 Bull St., 232-4151

The Evangelic Lutheran Church of the Ascension Church is open to visit or as a quiet refuge throughout the week - look for the sign out front on the sidewalk when the church is open.

 

First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave, 354-7615, 11:00 am

www.fpc.presbychurch.net  Moderate church, smart pastor and lots of knowledgeable congregants; lost its female assistant pastor; offers its space in support of a very successful Boy Scout troop and for Citizen Advocacy, a non-profit.

 

Sacred Heart Church, 1701 Bull St. 232-0792 11:00 am, 6:00 pm, Spanish 8:45 am

http://members.aol.com/shccsav/ 6:00 Mass on Sunday evenings is the home of the Sacred Heart Folk Choir.

 

St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church, 14 W. Anderson St., 236-8256, 10:00 am

www.stpaul.ga.goarch.org This building is worth a visit even where there are no services.

 

Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church, 429 Abercorn St. 232-0191 8:45, 11:00 am  http://www.sip.armstrong.edu/Methodism/wesley.html

 

First Baptist Church 223 Bull St. 234-2671, 11:00 am

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Most Conservative

Independent Presbyterian Church, Bull at Oglethorpe, 236-3346, 11:00 am

 

Bull Street Baptist Church 17E. Anderson St 236-1511, 10:55 am

www.bullstreet.org  

 

St. John's Episcopal Church, Bull St. on Madison Sq, 1 Macon St., 232-1251

www.stjohnssav.org

 

Christ Church, 28 Bull St., 238-0434,

www.christchurchsavannah.org Very conservative but not as conservative as the other downtown Episcopal church St. John's Church; the Christ Church congregation voted (10/14/07)to support a Vestry decision to break from the Episcopal Church; who owns the building they have used for over 100 years will, no doubt, be an interesting legal debate.