History of the first united methodist church - brookhaven
The First Methodist Church of Brookhaven was organized in the year 1857. Its first place of meeting was a frame building, which stood across from the John R. Perkins residence.
Archibald B. Nicholson was the first pastor of the church, but because his residence was at Hazlehurst, some twenty miles away, a large part of the pastoral work was done by a local elder.
The congregation began its first building program in March 1858. A neat frame structure was erected on a lot given to the church by Milton J. Whitworth. The building was made of hand-dressed lumber from the mill of Mr. Whitworth. Most of the work was done by Mr. Thomas Lewis, all at a cost of $3.000.00, which was the gift of Mr. Whitworth to the congregation. It contained a single room, which served as the sanctuary and as the meeting place for the Sunday School. In the Belfry, under the tall and graceful steeple, hung a soft-toned bell whose notes called the faithful to the services of the church.
At the Annual Conference held in Jackson in November 1859 . . . the Brookhaven District of the Methodist Church was formed. Earlier in the same year Whitworth College had been organized.
Upon reaching the year 1885, the town with its churches and Whitworth College, entered upon an era of great expansion. The student body of the College, together with the regular membership of the church filled the sanctuary to overflowing. Mr. Whitworth had foreseen the time when the facilities of the church would prove inadequate and on August 19, 1864, he and Mrs. Whitworth deeded two additional lots for the purpose of the expansion of those facilities.
The second Methodist Church building in Brookhaven was completed in the year 1904. The total cost ran to approximately $12,000.00. The new structure was of brick. At the time of the dedication service in 1907, it was confidently thought that the Methodist Church was adequately housed for generations to come, however the development of the Sunday School program brought increasing demands for expansion and the continued growth of the college, the town, and the church itself. This soon had the pastor and the people thinking of another building program.
A site was obtained across Cherokee Street from the old location and on December 12, 1916, the cornerstone of the present building was laid. The building was designed by John Gaisford, architect of Memphis, Tennessee. On Sunday morning, June 24, 1917, the Methodists of Brookhaven occupied their new church home.
Its main auditorium, seating 1200 persons, with additional room in ample balconies contained more than thirty rooms for Sunday School classes and provided space for the choir and for installation of a pipe organ.
The cost of the building was $43,484.00 which included $3,500.00 for the lot, $2,500.00 for the seating, $1,200.00 for the windows and $530.00 for the lighting.
March 16, 1924, all obligations having been met, the present First United Methodist building was dedicated.
During the conference year, 1926-27, the congregation procured and installed in the sanctuary one of the finest pipe organs, a Mueller, to be found in the state. A new console was recently installed during our current renovation; however, the original pipe organ is still enjoyed.
In September 1949, a building committee was elected to plan a new educational building. The educational building was completed late in the year 1952.
In 1997, several members were interested in having our First United Methodist Church listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A long in-depth study was made by Dr. Russell Burns and as a result on December 23, 1997, a letter was received:
"We are pleased to inform you that the First United Methodist Church of Brookhaven, Lincoln County, Mississippi, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the country's official list of buildings, sites, districts, and structures that merit preservation because of their significance in American history." "This church is one of the best examples of neo-classical revival church architecture existing in the state. . ."
The painting of "The Last Supper" was a gift to the church from Mr. Sam Moreton in memory of his wife, Zula Perkins.
Miss Margaret Schuck, Cincinnati artist, painted this impressive mural of "The Last Supper" and Cincinnatians had an opportunity of seeing it before it was rolled up like a carpet and sent to its new home in the south at Brookhaven, Mississippi.
The striking, colorful Mural of Christ and the Twelve Apostles is 27 feet long and 10 feet high and stretches across the back wall of the chancel area. It is done in oils in impressively beautiful natural colors on canvass.
First United Methodist Church of Brookhaven continues to strive to light the pathway to salvation for those lost with no hope, and to do our part in building the Kingdom of our Lord.