As I previously mentioned, Midway’s first church would serve as a foundation for local slave religion and Gullah-Geechee spirituality in Coastal Georgia.
Visitors are often surprised to hear that white members and their African American slaves would attend this same church. The Midway Church has a ‘slave gallery,’ where slaves sat during services. In the picture above – you will see a central entrance, which was used for the white attendants. The smaller door on the right was used for the enslaved attendants to enter the upstairs gallery.
In the years since the abolition of slavery and desegregation, many churches remodeled or removed their galleries, as they were no longer being used. At the time, this may have been viewed as progressive, but, consequently, it erased a significant feature of African American and Southern history, both of which are deeply intertwined with the church. Various preservation groups and churches have made recent efforts to restore galleries, where possible. The Midway Church is one of the few historical churches that retained its upstairs gallery in its entirety.
Posts are a combination of my own research, visits, and conversations, plus various information found around the web. I try to provide sources, but if you have specific questions, feel free to ask!