Potts Camp Methodist oldest in town

The South Reporter, unknown date

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The Potts Camp Methodist Church was organized soon after the town was formed.

The community of Potts Camp was settled before the War Between the States and had a postoffice and one or two stores almost from the date of settlement; however, the town was not formed until the SL-SF Railroad was constructed through Potts Camp, about 1887.

Prior to the advent of the railroad, Methodists in the community probably attended the Cornersville or Holly Springs churches.

On October 15, 1888, Brother S. A. Ellis completed the organization of the Potts Camp Church. Prior to organization of the church, Mrs. Mary A. Reid and her husband, C. H. Reid, had donated the land for the church. The lots donated by Mr. and Mrs. Reid have remained the site of the church until the present day.

The first church was a handsome frame edifice, costing approximately $2,500, which in those days would construct an outstanding building. At the time of construction, the Potts Camp Church was placed on the Cornersville circuit. In 1889, a parsonage was built and a new circuit was organized. The new circuit was known as the "Potts Camp Circuit" with the pastor living in the new parsonage. Other churches on this circuit were Winborn, Pisgah, Hickory Flat, Palestine and Ebenezer. The Rev. M. D. Fly was the first pastor to live in the parsonage.

In 1903 the first church building was destroyed by fire when it was struck by lightning. A contract was immediately let to J. A. Potts for a new building. At the time the new building was constructed, the church membership numbered 43.

The new building was a frame structure with stained glass windows. It was finely furnished inside and the floor was carpeted. It is remembered that the church had a custodian to take care of the church and, during services, the custodian, wearing a white coat, remained in the vestibule to assist communicants with their hats and wraps.

For many years after organization of the Methodist church, it was the only church in Potts Camp. During these years, people of different faiths attended and were active in their support of the church.

In 1926, the church was torn down and work was begun upon a two story brick building, which was completed in 1927. Sufficient funds were donated so that when completed in 1927 there was no indebtedness against the church.

In 1929, on Christmas Eve night, the new church was destroyed by fire of unknown origin. The church, however, was fully insured and in 1930, the present building was constructed for the amount of the insurance.

The present church is a two-story brick building with a large auditorium upstairs and Sunday school, worship rooms, rest rooms and kitchen down stairs. The present building is very much like the original plan. It is air conditioned, carpeted, has walnut pews, venetian blinds, divided chancel, with altar and is steam heated.

At the dedication of the Hammond organ, Mr. Thomas Webster an outstanding organist of the South, played the musical program. A number of organ concerts have been given at the church.

Among the dedicated ministers who have served as pastor of the church are: S. A. Ellis, M. D. Fly, John Bell, James Honnell, James Porter, L. D. Worsham, A. W. Langley, J. H. Martin, R. W. Evans, W. F. Rogers, D. H. Crowson, B. P. Fullilove, M. A. Burns, E. P. Craddock, J. L. Nabors, Sr., J. B. Burns, O. A. Clark, Luster James, J. D. Simpson, B. E. Crowson, A. R. Beasley, Warren C. Black, L. A. Bennett, Zeke Jumper, E. E. Tucker, E. M. Allen, and J. C. Babb, Jr.

It was during Rev. Babb's tenure of service that the parsonage was remodeled at a cost of approximately $5,000.

It was in 1958 that one of the outstanding young ministers of the North Mississippi Conference was assigned to the Potts Camp Church. This Berry Whitehurst, who served young man was the Rev. five years as pastor before he was given a new assignment.

The present pastor is the Rev. Inge Halbert, who was born and reared in Caledonia, Lowndes County, Mississippi. He served several churches in North Mississippi, before going to Texas for further study and, while pursuing his studies, also held pastorates. He transferred back to the North Mississippi Conference in 1963.

During its dedicated services covering more than three quarters of a century, the Potts Camp Methodist Church has remained continuously open, and is stronger today than at any time since its organization.

Visitors are always welcome at any or all of the church services.

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