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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.