Mississippi City United Methodist Church had "142 white members and 28 colored members," in 1840, which may or may not be its beginning date. Such histories are not easy to piece together, but the congregation knows Methodism was strong in the little berg from the beginning. |
That would be 1838, when Mississippi City was created as one of the "Six Sisters," the early Mississippi Coast waterfront communities that lured tourists and summer residents. Mississippi City is now part of southeast Gulfport.
In the early days, Methodist circuit riders tended to spiritual needs. Church history also says that a train depot, built in anticipation of Mississippi City becoming a lumber port, served as a church meeting place.
Finally, in 1898 a judge and son of a minister gave land on Walston Street to church trustees. A "one-room, clapboard structure dedicated to God and man" was built the next year.
It had a small steeple with a cast-iron bell.
In 1950, the church paid $3,200 for a lot on nearby Courthouse Road and moved the little church there. Post World War II brought growth, and in 1960 the congregation dedicated a new church. From the original little church they saved the bell and fashioned two crosses out of the old wood.
These bits of history survived when Katrina waters swept through the sanctuary.
"Both the crosses are still there," said the Rev. Rod Dickson-Rishel, pastor at Mississippi City for six years."
- KAT BERGERON