St. John was founded in 1798 by Stith Mead. Mead was a graduate of Richmond Academy. His father, William, and the rest of the Meads were longtime members of St. Paul’s. But Stith found his calling in Virginia among the Methodists and became a circuit rider. On a visit to his family in Augusta he preached at St. Paul’s with a sermon condemning his listeners for not knowing their left hand from their right in religious matters. They, in turn, expelled him from St. Paul’s pulpit. Mead and six others then formed a Methodist Society in 1798.
In 1800 Mead donated $500 to erect a two-story frame building 40-by-60 feet, on the site St. John still occupies on Greene Street. The society grew. By 1844 the congregation required a larger building, and the present sanctuary was built. The original frame meetinghouse was rolled on logs to the corner of 12th and Reynolds streets, where it still stands, the oldest church structure in Augusta, serving Springfield Baptist Church.
Five of St. John’s ministers became bishops. In 1882, during the pastorate of Warren Candler, Methodist leaders black and white met here to organize Paine College.
Our sanctuary was expanded in the 1890s, and the stained-glass windows were installed. In 1998, for the church’s bicentennial, the sanctuary was restored to its 19th-century appearance.
Our pipe organ was installed in 2003. Designed and built for our sanctuary by the Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, Iowa, this three-manual, mechanical action instrument has 42 ranks of pipes (2,172 in all).