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Antecedents to the Mississippi Conference, UMC

Summary of Historical Divisions of Methodism in Mississippi

The Mississippi Conference, United Methodist Church, is the continuing life of six former conferences within the bounds of the state of Mississippi, beginning with Rev. Tobias Gibson's appointment by the South Carolina Conference to the Natchez Territory in 1799. American Methodism was founded in 1784 by John Wesley, Francis Asbury, and Thomas Coke, and the denomination was called the Methodist Episcopal Church, (MEC).

The Mississippi Conference antecedent groups are:

1. Mississippi Conference, MEC, (1813-1844), continued as Miss. Conference, MEC, South, (1845-1939) following the 1844 General Conference split over slavery, and continued as Miss. Conference, The Methodist Church (TMC) following the union of the 3 major branches of Methodism (1939-1968), continuing in the United Methodist Church (UMC) following the merger with Evangelical United Brethren (1969-present). (There were no EUB churches in Miss. at the time of merger.)

2. North Mississippi Conference, MEC, South (1870-1938), formed from former Mississippi, Memphis, and Mobile Conferences in 1870, and continued as North Miss. Conference, The Methodist Church following the union of the 3 major branches of Methodism (1939-1968), then continued as North Miss. Conference, United Methodist Church (1969-1988) until merger with Mississippi Conference in 1989 to form present day Mississippi Conference.

3. Mississippi Conference, MEC, (1865-1938) was established in Mississippi by the Northern Methodist church to provide administration for newly freed black Methodists whose churches were formerly part of the MEC, South. The Conference continued as Miss. Conference, Central Jurisdiction, The Methodist Church, following the 1938 union (1939-1968), and United Methodist Church (1969-1972), until the merger of the black and white Miss. Conferences in 1972 forming the Mississippi Conference, Southeastern Jurisdiction, United Methodist Church (1973-present).

4. Upper Mississippi Conference, MEC, (1891-1938) formed out of the Miss. Conference, MEC, to administer black churches in the northern half of the state. Following the 1938 union, it continued as Upper Miss. Conference, Central Jurisdiction, The Methodist Church (1939-1968), and United Methodist Church (1969-1972), until the merger of the black Upper Miss. Conference with the white North Miss. Conference in 1972, forming a new North Mississippi Conference, Southeastern Jurisdiction, UMC (1973-1988). In 1989, the North Mississippi and Mississippi Conferences merged to form the present Miss. Conference, UMC.

5. Mississippi Conference, Methodist Protestant Church (MPC) formed in 1841, several years after the main denominational split from the MEC in 1830 over lay representation and episcopal authority in the General Conference. The MPC was one of the three major branches of Methodism united 1938 to form The Methodist Church (1939-1968), later the UMC (1969-present).

6. North Mississippi Conference, MPC, formed out of the Miss. Conference, MPC, in 1867, and united with the Upper Miss. Conference, MEC and North Miss. Conference, MEC,S in 1938 to become part of the North Miss. Conference, The Methodist Church (1939-1968), later the UMC (1969-1988), then the Miss. Conference, UMC (1989-present), following the merger of the North Miss. and Miss. Conferences in 1988.

Antecedents Chart:
Antecedents

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Beginnings of Churches and Christian Work in Mississippi

By Henry G. Hawkins

Christian chaplains (Roman Catholic priests) accompanied the dashing young Spaniard, Hernando De Soto, in his luckless wanderings through Mississippi in 1539. The next priest who set foot on Mississippi soil was Marquette, who, in 1673, along with Joliet, a tracker, did some work, chiefly of exploration. The inspiration of their trip was partly missionary; but they probably held little communication with the Indians.  They reached the conclusion that the Mississippi River emptied into the Gulf of Mexico.  Marquette's health suffered from the exposure of the journey; and Joliet lost his map and record of their journey while crossing the rapids above Montreal.  but Marquette's narrative of the trip was published in 1681.  In 1682, Father Membre accompanied the expedition of La Salle as far south as the mouth of the Mississippi River.  On the trip down, every effort was made to obtain the friendship of the various Indian tribes; and Father Membre, in his interesting narrative of the voyage, refers especially to the kindly welcome they found at a village of the "Natchie" Indians, nine miles inland.

Before 1698 the Seminary of Foreign Missions at Paris, France, had established a branch seminary in Quebec; and in the 1698 the Bishop of Quebec sent out from this branch seminary three Catholic priests, to be the first missionaries resident in the newly discovered Southern field.  One of these started a mission among a tribe of the Illinois, north of the Ohio River; the second settled among the Tensas, and latter among the "Natchie" Indians; and the third, Father Anthony Davion, came still farther south, and pursued missionary labors in what is now Wilkinson County, among the Tunica tribe., planting the cross on a high rock, which was called by the French, "Roche a Davion" until 1764, when it was named "Loftus Heights" by the British, and subsequently "Fort Adams".  Davion visited Biloxi.  He finally suffered the martyrdom of death by burning at Fort Adams.

Roman Catholic missionary labors were pursued for nearly a century, but despite great individual efforts and heroism amid savage conditions, it is doubtful if many converts were made among the settlers in Mississippi, or any lasting impressions made upon the Indian tribes.  When the province became a part of the United States, and the Mississippi Territory was set apart in 1798, it was without a Catholic priest.  They had all returned to Spain and France.

Before the departure of the Catholic priests, the Protestants had done much missionary work, but in violation of the laws of the province.  Spain, which was most intensely Catholic country in Europe, in her government of the provinces of West Florida, which included much of Mississippi, made some effort at tolerance, in order to encourage immigration; but the Catholic Church received official sanction and encouragement.  A large majority of the settlers were Protestants, and were allowed full right of private worship.  Claiborne, in his history says: "It was a community of Protestants under strictly Catholic dynasty in an age of intolerance.  But here there was little persecution, no proscription, no civil distinctions made, and never any interference, except in one or two instances when the preservation of public order was imperative."  The successive commandants at Natchez were accomplished gentlemen, "trained to arms, fond of etiquette and pomp, but hospitable, generous and forbearing."

Congregationalist

In 1772 Richard and Samuel Swayze, of New Jersey, bought at 20 cents per acre, 19,000 acres of land, and located the tract on the Homochitto River in what later became Adams County.  Samuel Swayze was a Congregationalist minister, and most of the people who came with him were of that faith.  "The faithful shepherd, as soon as he provided a shelter for his wife and children, and planted corn for their bread, gathered up his fold and organized his society, undoubtedly the first Protestant pastor and congregation in the Natchez district.  Under many drawbacks, growing out of Indian depredations and discouragements after the county passed into Spanish hands, this pious teacher and his kindred met together on the Sabbath, often in the swamps and canebrakes, for divine service."

Baptist

The second Protestant preacher in the new territory was Richard Curtis, a Baptist, who settled on Cole's Creek, near Natchez, in 1780.  he is represented as a plain, honest, unsophisticated man, but zealous and uncompromising.  The Spanish government threatened to send him to the Mexican mines, and to escape that, he fled to his old home in North Carolina.  William Berry was the second Baptist preacher to appear in the territory.  As early as 1800 Baptist congregations were formed at or near Woodville and on Second Creek.  These two, with Salem and New Providence, of Amite County, and one other, making five churches in all met at Bethel, four and one half miles southwest of Woodville, in August, 1806, and formed an Association, which has grown into the present Baptist Convention of Mississippi.  In 1812, there were seventeen churches and 765 members.  The commodious brick structure used by the Baptist congregation of Woodville at the present time, still in good condition, is thought by some to be the oldest church building in Mississippi.  Unfortunately, records on the subject are not obtainable.

Episcopal

The Episcopalians were next to enter the territory.  In 1792, while the country was under Spanish control, Rev. Adam Cloud, Virginian, settled on St. Catherine's Creek in Adams County.  Public religious worship was forbidden by the authorities; but besides baptizing the children and burying the dead, Mr. Cloud occasionally preached, and in other ways ministered to the spiritual needs of the people. For this he was arrested and put in irons, and sent to New Orleans to be tried on a charge of heresy, or leave the territory.  He chose the latter, and went to South Carolina and Georgia, where he remained twenty years.  He returned in 1816; and in the year 1820 organized Christ Church at Church Hill, the first Episcopalian parish of the State.  This brave pioneer was followed by Rev. James A. Fox and Rev. James Pilmore.  The first Episcopalian services in Woodville were held by Rev. James A. Fox on Oct. 4, 1823; and on May 17, 1826, the four parishes of Church Hill, Port Gibson, Woodville, and Natchez met in Natchez and organized the Diocese of Mississippi, Natchez being the largest parish, with 35 communicants.  The Woodville congregation, under the leadership of the present rector, Rev. David E. Holt, on Oct. 4 to 7, 1923, held an interesting and inspiring centennial celebration, which received additional inspiration from the attendance of Bishops T.D Bratton and W.M. Green and several former rectors.

Methodist

The work of the Methodists in the Natchez country began with the appointment by Bishop Asbury at the session of the South Carolina Conference, which met in Charleston, Jan. 1, 1799 of the Tobias Gibson as preacher in charge of the Natchez circuit or mission.  Asbury knew the Spanish government had just been superseded by the American, and that the time was ripe for the Methodists to go into the American settlements of the Natchez country.  His choice of Gibson was a wise one, except that his healthy failed and he died April 5, 1804.  The family record of the Griffings near Selzertown, twelve miles from Natchez, shows that on Oct. 10, 1799, Gibson performed the marriage ceremony of Jonathan Jones to Phoebe Griffing.  It is supposed that Gibson preached in Wilkinson County in 1799 or 1800, because the record is that he visited all the settlements and held services during those years.  It is known that the eccentric Methodist evangelist, Lorenzo Dow, in 1803, preached at Fort Adams, Pinckneyville, and at a point in Wilkinson County, near Laurel Hill, La., and at Midway, near Centreville.  In this same year Dow, at Kingston, Adams County, gave his watch for the lot on which the first Methodist Church building of Mississippi was erected.

In October, 1804, Learner Blackman, of Kentucky, was appointed by William McKendree, president of the Western Conference, to take supervision of the work in the Mississippi Territory.  He arrived at Randall Gibson's near Port Gibson, Nov. 6, accompanied by Lorenzo Dow.  At the session of the Western Conference held in Scott County, Ky. Oct. 2, 1805, the work, which had been hitherto only one circuit, the Natchez, was divided into three distinct circuits, Natchez, Claiborne, and Wilkinson, comprising the Mississippi District of the Western Conference.  Learner Blackman was presiding elder, and Caleb W. Cloud was preacher-in-charge of the most southern circuit, Wilkinson, which "must embrace all of Wilkinson County, extending eastward to the waters of the Amite and Bogue Chitto rivers, and as far south into West Florida as the Protestant settlements could guarantee the safety of the preacher." The Mississippi Conference was organized in 1813, and is the mother of several Conferences.

The first bishop to preside over the Mississippi Conference was Roberts.  The family of W.A. Dickson, at Centreville, Miss., have i their possession the parchment signed by R.R. Roberts at Pine Ridge, M.T. ,Oct. 13, 1816, certifying the ordination of William Winans as elder.

June 26-30, the Methodists of Woodville, Miss. Celebrated the one hundredth year since their church was erected.

Presbyterian

Many of the emigrants to the Natchez district were Scotch Irish, very tenacious Presbyterians.

In May, 1800, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America authorized Rev. James Hall to preach the gospel in the Natchez country.  The Synod of Carolinas (North and South) included in its bounds the territory of Alabama and Mississippi, and in October, 1800, appointed James Hall and James H. Bowman, of South Carolina, and William Montgomery, of Georgia, to evangelize in the Natchez country, provided for their support and sent them westward.  They came through the wilderness on horseback.  They spent from October to April (1801) in the country.  they found some places for service near Black River, Bayou Pierre near the site of Port Gibson, Cole's Creek at Uniontown, Washington, Natchez, Pinkneyville and others, nine in all.  From the nine, five churches were subsequently organized.

Rev. Joseph Bullon had been sent in 1799 by the New York Missionary Society to work among the Indians of  North Mississippi, near Pontotoc.  He was Presbyterian, and after four years of work among the Indians, he settled near Natchez and engaged in farming, teaching school and preaching.  He was an organizer; and in 1804 he established Bethel Church in Jefferson County, which was the first Presbyterian church in Mississippi, constituted in regular form.  It afterwards was united with the Rodney Church.

In 1804, James Smylie came from North Carolina.  He was the first Presbyterian minister to settle permanently in the Mississippi Territory.

The oldest congregation in Mississippi that is still alive is at Pine Ridge, five miles from Natchez.

By 1812 there were eight churches, and in 1815 these churches, which had become a part of the Synod of Kentucky, were constituted an independent Presbytery, to be known as the Mississippi Presbytery.  The first meeting of this Presbytery (with three preachers and four elders present) was held March 6, 1816, at Salem church, Pine Ridge, Adams county.  In 1830 Oakland College was established by the Mississippi Presbytery, its successor being Chamberlain-Hunt Academy at Port Gibson.

Christian

It seems that the Christians, or Disciples, did not organize in the State until 1838, the first congregation being formed at Battle, eight miles from Jackson, followed in the same year by organizations at Utica, Columbus, and several in Wilkinson County.  General William Clark, who preached at Battle once a month for many years, along with Joe Mathes, organized in 1841 a congregation in Jackson, which before the Civil War was one of the wealthiest in the State.  Mr. Phares, in 1843, opened in Wilkinson County a college for both young men and young ladies, which flourished until the outbreak of the Civil War, sending out many useful men and women.

* Abstract from The History of Protestantism in the Old Southwest, reproduced from the "New Orleans Christian Advocate," August 21, 1924. Bob Anding, Miss. Historical Society, 1980.

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Beginnings of Methodism in North Mississippi

The United States Government signed a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians on September 20, 1816 whereby all the lands in North Alabama and bounded on the west by the Tombigbee River were ceded to the government. By 1819 all of North Alabama had been formed into counties. The Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church sent preachers to serve the settlers of the region.

As early as 1817 white settlers were established in the territory east of the Tombigbee River in what is now Lowndes and Monroe counties. In 1819 The Tennessee Conference appointed Ebenezer Hearn to the Buttahatchie Mission which embraced all of Marion County, Alabama and the territory in Mississippi east of the river.

In 1821 Monroe County, Mississippi was formed, including what is now Lowndes County, in what was the first county in north Mississippi. The other counties were in the Natchez country, far away across Indian territory. Also in 1821 the work which had been begun by preachers from the Tennessee Conference was transferred to the Mississippi Conference which already included South Alabama. In 1823 the church in Columbus was organized by Wiley Ledbetter: The First Methodist Church in Columbus is believed to be the oldest church in the north Mississippi region.

In 1827 Dr. Alexander Talley was sent as a missionary to the Choctaw Indians. His work was largely in Leake and Attala counties. By the time the Indians were removed in 1834 there were 4,000 Methodist Indians who went to the Indian Territory.

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek transferred all of north Mississippi to the United States Government and by 1936 all of the region had been formed into counties. Between this time and 1870 the various circuits were established and changes occurred in the Memphis Conference, Mobile Conference later Alabama Conference and the Mississippi Conference which shared responsibility for the region and which would eventually lead to present day Conferences.

The Methodist Protestant Church

Although the beginnings of the Methodist Protestant Church in north Mississippi are obscure, by 1854 conference sessions were being held. The earliest minutes of the Methodist Protestant Church are for 1867. Evidence suggests at least 13 years of activity prior to this. Records of the work of these devout, though never large in number, individuals exist until unification in 1938.

Upper Mississippi Conference

From the time of the first Methodist work in North Mississippi around 1820 until 1865, the same Methodist ministers served both whites and blacks, often in the same congregations, with statistics kept separately.  In the plantation sections of North Mississippi separate "colored missions" were often formed, and most Methodist churches in the state were administered by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, following the split from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844.  In 1865, the Mississippi Mission Conference was organized by the M.E. Church (the northern branch) to establish and administer churches for the black Methodists.  In 1869, the Mississippi Conference of the M.E. Church was organized with two districts, Holly Springs in the northern part of the state, and Jackson in the southern half.  In 1891, this conference was divided and the Upper Mississippi Conference was established at Holly Springs with 79 ministers and 18 probationers, encompassing the thirty eight northern counties of the state.  Those Negroes who remained members of the Southern Church in 1870 formed a separate body which we know today as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (C.M.E.).

The North Mississippi Conference

In May, 1870, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South made provisions for a new Conference in North Mississippi, organized at Water Valley with David S. Doggett as Bishop. There were 124 preachers as charter members: 17 from the Alabama (former Mobile) Conference, 19 from the Mississippi Conference, and 88 from the Memphis Conference. The Conference boundaries, including counties north of the 33rd parallel  with only minor changes, was to remain until the merger of the Mississippi and North Mississippi Conferences in 1988./p>

Methodist Union

The two conferences were brought into the same national body with the unification of Methodism in 1938.  the M.E. Church, the M.E. Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church united to become the Methodist Church, with the Upper Mississippi Conference in the Central Jurisdiction and the North Mississippi Conference in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.  With the dissolution of the Central Jurisdiction in 1968, the two Conferences came under the same Episcopal leadership of the United Methodist Church.

Mergers with other Mississippi Conferences

In 1973 the North Mississippi Conference and the Upper Mississippi Conference merged under the name The North Mississippi Conference, bringing together in structure and function the white and black Methodist congregations in Mississippi.  A similar merger took place in the conferences in the southern half of the state at the same time, forming one Mississippi Conference from the former two.

In 1988 the Mississippi and North Mississippi Conferences merged, forming the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church.

*This article is an abridgment of an article with the same title which appeared in The Mississippi Methodist Advocate, December 2, 1959, with additional information from The North Mississippi Conference Journal, 1973.  Both sources and other information on this topic are available at the J. B. Cain Archives of Mississippi Methodism, Millsaps-Wilson Library, Millsaps College.

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Black Methodists in Mississippi: A Brief History

By Roy Lawrence

When Rev. Tobias Gibson, Methodist missionary and circuit rider, organized the first Methodist Church in Mississippi at Washington in 1799 there were eight members - six white and two black, a man and wife whose names are not known. The names of the white members are recorded; the two blacks' names are not, perhaps symbolic of the struggle that followed but surely symbolic of the history of blacks in America and in Mississippi specifically.

John Wesley and America's first Bishop, Frances Asbury, both opposed slavery but the holding of slaves was legal in even the earliest of the thirteen colonies. Methodists in both the north and south held slaves. In the early nineteenth century the issue was moving toward the ultimate conflict. In 1844 the General Conference of the Methodist Church agreed to divide the Church into Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, based on differing opinions on how the issue of slavery should be addressed.

Following the Civil War the Methodist Episcopal Church (North) was given permission to occupy the south for missionary purposes. In 1864 the General Conference of the M.E.C (north) addressed the question, "What shall we do with the Negroes?" Before the War the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1816) and the A.M.E. Church, Zion, (1820) had been formed. There was as well the Colored Methodist Protestant Church. The 1864 Conference chose to establish General Conferences and Mission Conferences. Delegates acted quickly to form Negro Conferences and in 1864 the Mississippi Department was created to oversee missions in the region of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. This arrangement was met with opposition from southern white churchmen, but in 1865 five new churches were started with over 2,000 members. Eleven black ministers were admitted to the Conference. The second annual Conference was held in New Orleans in December 1866 in spite of the race riots which were occurring there. Rev. Henry Jackson was badly wounded and two new churches were burned - one at Jefferson and one at Carrollton.

Both black and white churches opposed the new conference, as well as secular forces. In spite of this the M.E.C. (north) grew in the region. In Mississippi seventy-seven men became local preachers and there were nine new congregations: Aberdeen, Canton, Corinth, Columbus, Grenada, Meridian, Vicksburg, and Yazoo City.

At the third session of the Mississippi Mission Conference in 1867, James D. Lynch was appointed presiding elder, the first secretary of the conference of his race. Canton is the birthplace of the Mississippi Conference and the first session was held there in 1869 at the Asbury Methodist Church. Later conferences met St. James Church in Columbus (1873), St. Paul Church in Meridian (1875). In 1875 Rev. Oscar Carter, a former slave and admitted to serve as a preacher in Forest and Morton, was murdered in an unsolved case.

Negro Exodus

The late 1870's saw a great many blacks leaving the south, due to the rise in the Ku Klux Klan and Supreme Court rulings that anti-negro violence must be punished by the states, as well as the 1878 drought and yellow fever epidemic contributed to an exodus of M.E.C. members. Only four in one hundred blacks in Mississippi in 1890 were Methodists.

1880-1890

In the 1880's disputes about appointing a Negro Bishop led to a call for General Conference to organize blacks into an entirely separate church which would allow them to have their own bishop. The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (later called the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church) was formed. The A.M.E. Church and the M.E.C. (North) continued as well. By 1890 there was a movement to divide the Conference into parts. Thus, the Upper Mississippi Conference was formed and held its first session at Asbury Church in Holly Springs in 1891. There were five districts: Aberdeen, Corinth, Greenville, Holly Springs and Yazoo River.

Following its founding in 1890 the Upper Mississippi Conference worked to establish itself, while the M.E.C. north also underwent some change along racial lines. The Conference was socially active, protesting inequality in railroad accommodations, supporting a woman's right to membership in the General Conference, resisted further splintering of the Church, and issuing a license to preach to Mrs. Mary E. Jones of Indianola in 1920. Another out migration of blacks occurred in the 1910's and the flood of 1927 delivered severe blows to the church. A period of transition followed and in 1938 the M.E.C. north and south and the Methodist Protestant Church reunited. A Central Jurisdiction, based on racial lines, was featured as well and subsequently proved an embarrassment. It's elimination was finally achieved and led the way to the 1973 mergers of Mississippi's white and black Methodist Conferences, followed by the complete merger into the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1988.

*This article is an abridgment of "A Brief History of Black Methodists in Mississippi," by Roy Lawrence. Mississippi United Methodist Advocate. November 27, 1974. Lawrence, in turn, attributes much of the information to Mississippi Circuit Riders 1865-1965, by Dr. John R. Graham. Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1967, 229 pages. Both titles are available at the J. B. Cain Archives, Millsaps-Wilson Library, Millsaps College.

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Historic Methodist Churches and Landmarks in Mississippi

This is a selection of sites based on notes prepared by William L. Jenkins in 1995. For the complete list click here. This list is a work in progress: Suggestions for additional sites or information on those listed are welcome.

Natchez-Vicksburg Area

1. Natchez. Early Methodist center. It is said that before the Civil War there were more millionaires in the Natchez country (most of them rich planters) than in New York, and the Annual Natchez Pilgrimage (held each spring) gives the visitor a tour to many of the large, stately homes that were found nowhere else so numerous and lavish as in and around Natchez. One of these homes for years was known as "The Parsonage." It was built by the husband of Mrs. Elijah Little, a Methodist who was continually inviting Methodist ministers to stay in the Little home, and was given to the Natchez church as a parsonage.

2. Washington Church at Washington (6 miles e. of Natchez, on 64, 81, 98) is the oldest Methodist congregation in Mississippi, it having been organized by Tobias Gibson in a school in 1799, with eight members: six white and two colored. Its first building burned in 1810, but in 1812 a brick church was built just inside the campus of Historic Jefferson College (founded in 1802, the first institution of learning in the southwest) on a lot given by Lorenzo Dow, the eccentric roving evangelist. In this church the Constitutional Convention met that adopted the first constitution for the state of Mississippi, and also three early sessions of the Mississippi Conference. A fourth session met in 1829 in the present building (erected in 1828) which is probably the second oldest Methodist building in the state today.

3. Kingston church. Southeast of Natchez, in Adams County. Kingston (15 miles s.e. of Natchez, on 554) is the oldest Protestant community in the state; Tobias Gibson organized a Methodist congregation here in 1800, the second in the state. In 1803, Lorenzo Dow sold his watch (which someone had given him in Georgia) and bought a lot not far from the present church. This lot was the first Methodist property in Mississippi. In the present Kingston church, completed in 1857, the slave galleries still remain, and the old-fashioned high pulpit still adds a touch of formality and dignity.

4. In Natchez (corner of Jefferson and Union) the Jefferson Street Church, known originally simply as Natchez, goes back as a congregation to 1805. The brick church wore the name Cokesbury Chapel when it was erected in 1807. A second building was erected in 1823. The Natchez church was made a station in 1826, the first station church in the southwest, and has been host of 15 sessions of the Mississippi Conference. The first "Sabbath School" in Mississippi was started in this church in April 1829 (when it was known as Lovely Lane Church and was located on Union Street). Moses Floyd is buried in an unmarked grave in Natchez.

5. William Foster Home. At Pine Ridge, just north of Natchez. Site of Annual Conference of 1816, first session at which a bishop was present. A half mile from the Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church (5 miles n. of Natchez, on 554) is the William Foster home. In the church and in this house in 1816 was held the first Annual Conference in Mississippi presided over by a Bishop (Bishop Roberts, who had traveled on horseback from Western Pennsylvania). The business sessions were held in an upstairs room in the home and the preaching and ordination services in the church. William Foster and his wife, who had been a part of the first Methodist congregation in Mississippi, are buried in the family cemetery near the home. Both house and church still exist. [A visit in March, 2001 did not include the home. 3/30/01]

6. In Port Gibson (on 61, n. of Lorman; s. of Vicksburg) the Methodist congregation was organized in 1826. Not far from the present church (completed 1860) stands the building of the Methodist school which once meant so much to this section: the Port Gibson Academy, Collegiate Institute, and Female College, as it was variously known from 1839 to 1928. It became a historical museum before eventually becoming the Port Gibson City Hall, Library and Fire Department.

7. Woodville Church, at Woodville (county seat town, 36 miles s. of Natchez on 61), the Methodist church, which was built in 1824, is the oldest Methodist church building in Mississippi and possibly in several adjoining states. The sanctuary has been completely redecorated and an educational unit added. This church entertained the Mississippi Conference four times before the Civil War and at least 10 Bishops have preached here.

8. The present Lorman Methodist Church (built in 1916) (n. of Fayette, on 61) is the successor to the famous Cane Ridge Church which was organized in 1817. This church furnished 18 ministers to the Conference, five of whom were members of various General Conferences, a record possibly not equaled by any other rural church anywhere.

9. Rocky Springs (on Natchez Trace, 15 miles n.e. of Port Gibson) has one of the oldest active Methodist congregations in the state. It dates back to 1805 and its building, erected in 1837, is the fourth oldest in the Conference.

10. At Vicksburg, in the yard of the large Crawford Street Methodist Church (Crawford and Cherry), is the gave and monument of Tobias Gibson, who originally was buried in a remote spot four miles to the southeast. Visit this large church with its worshipful sanctuary.

11. The grave of Rev. Newet Vick, the first local preacher to come to the state, and the one for whom Vicksburg was named (a few miles to the north of Vicksburg on the Oak Ridge road).

12. Asbury Cemetery. Graves of Mr. and Mrs. Randall Gibson (Hariett McKinley Gibson) the first two people to join the Methodist church in the southwest, 12 miles s.e. of Vicksburg off Halls Ferry Road.

Jackson Area

13. In Jackson, Mississippi's capital city Methodism started in 1836, under the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Ford, son of Rev. John Ford. Galloway Memorial (319 N. Congress, near the capitol building) was known as First Methodist until 1917.

14. Millsaps College in Jackson (1701 N. State St.), operated by Mississippi Methodists since its founding in 1890, is one of the small "superior quality" colleges of the nation. Its Founders Hall, built soon after the Civil War, formerly housed Jackson College for Negroes was demolished in 1971. Site of the tomb of Major Reuben Webster and Alice Millsaps (the layman who founded the college).

15. The former Mississippi Methodist Children's Home (2003 West St., near Millsaps College), formerly housed in a large, dormitory-type building, became a beautiful cluster of homes with separate chapel and dining facilities for its 120 children. Established first at Water Valley in 1898, this Home was moved to Jackson in 1904. Sold in 1990's.

16. Central Church, Jackson (on N. Farish), is one of Mississippi Methodism's oldest black congregation.

17. The Jackson Area Headquarters Building (321 Mississippi St., across from state capitol building) is adjacent to Galloway Memorial church and houses the offices of the Bishop, the Mississippi Methodist Advocate, and the boards of the Mississippi Conference.

18. A few miles north of Jackson, in a rural setting, is Pearl River Church (five miles e. of Madison and two miles n. of the Natchez Trace), famous as being the home church of James W. Lambuth and his wife Mary. The Lambuth family has given more than 300 years of ministerial and missionary service, including Bishop Walter Russell Lambuth who was born in the Orient and established Methodist missions in Africa.

19. In Brandon (on 80 just e. of Jackson) in the present elegant old church in 1878 the first Woman's Society in the Mississippi Conference was organized. Near Brandon, at Brandon springs, (8 mi. east) is the original site of Centenary College, which was founded in 1841, moved to Jackson, LA, (which was then in the Mississippi Conference) in 1845, and is now thriving at Shreveport, where it moved in 1907.

20. At Shiloh (s.e. of Brandon) is the attractive Shiloh Methodist Church (organized 1826) and Campground. This is the oldest campground in the state where annual camp meetings are still held on the same spot, the custom having been started in 1832. This campground is equipped with cabins.

21. Thornton Chapel Church. W. of Canton, just off Highway 16. A mourner's bench and pulpit from Thornton Chapel are now in the Millsaps-Wilson Library.

North Mississippi

22. Rust College, Holly Springs

23. Wood College, Mathiston

24. Asbury Church, Holly Springs.

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Postcards of Methodist Churches in Mississippi

The J. B. Cain Archives owns a collection of post cards of Historical Methodist Churches in Mississippi. Most of the cards were collected by David Aaronson: They were acquired by the Commission on Archives and History in 1998.

Below is a complete list:

List of Post Cards purchased by Commission on Archives and History
from David Aaronson
February 1998

First Methodist Church, Aberdeen
First Methodist Church, Booneville
Methodist Church, Canton
Methodist Church, Clarksdale
Methodist Church, Columbia
M.E. Church, Columbus
Methodist Church, Columbus
First Methodist Church, Corinth
Methodist Church, Corinth
First Methodist Church, Greenville
Methodist Church, Sanitarium and Elks Home, Greenville
Methodist Church, Greenwood
First Methodist Church, Greenwood
M.E. Church, Grenada
Main Street Methodist Church, Hattiesburg
Methodist Church, Holly Springs
Capitol Street Methodist Church, Jackson
First Methodist Church, Jackson
Galloway Memorial Church, Jackson
Galloway Memorial M.E. Church, Jackson
First Methodist Church, Kosciusko
Methodist Church, Leland
First Methodist Church, McComb City
Methodist Church, McComb
Pearl River Avenue Methodist Church, McComb
Central Methodist Church, Meridian
Methodist Church, Okolona
Methodist Church, Port Gibson
Methodist Church, Senatobia
M.E. Church and parsonage, Starkville
First M.E. Church, Vicksburg
Methodist Church, Vicksburg
Bethel (Redbone) Methodist Church, Warren County
Moore Memorial Methodist Church, Winona
Methodist Church, Woodville
St. Stephen's M.E. Church, Yazoo City

 

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