140 years and counting

By the Rev. Trey Harper
Pastor, Eupora FUMC

We have all heard the expression that time flies, and just as my
momma said would happen, the older I get the more I find that
statement true. It seems like only yesterday we were moving into the
parsonage and into this wonderful town we have come to call home. In
actuality it was six years ago.

We have seen God move and many great and wonderful ways in our time
here as part of Eupora First United Methodist Church, and as proud as
I am of the church we are; it only takes a moment to reflect upon our
glorious past to see that the caring, dedicated and faithful servants
that fill our pews today are simply carrying on a proud tradition
that has continued on for generations.

This May we will be celebrating 70 years of worship and ministry in
our current building on Fox Avenue. For 70 years our sanctuary has
been filled with prayers, praises, joys, sorrows and lives changed
for Jesus Christ.

On a Tuesday, Feb. 20, 1940, the church property, which was then
located on the corner of Fox Avenue and Dunn Street, was sold to the
U.S. Postal Service for the sum of $7,000 to be used for the
construction of our current post office.

The church building that was on the site was a beautiful brick
structure completed in 1911. On March 5, 1940, the land where the
church now sits was purchased from W.T. Scarbrough for $1,600, and
construction was begun. In the interim the congregation worshiped in
the Community House and in the Eupora Theater.

Helen Eudy Sugg, who had the distinction of being our longest-living
member until her death last month, remembered how the church organ
was moved to her family home during the construction for fear of mice
damaging the bellows. During these years the choir rehearsed in her
living room each week.

Although the building was not completed until February of 1943, the
first worship was held in the sanctuary on Nov. 29, 1942.

An article in The Webster Progress, donated to the church archives by
Thurman Latham Jr., described the complete church.

It says, “Eupora’s new Methodist Church, under construction for the
past two years, was opened Sunday to the public.

Perfect in almost every detail, it combines sheer beauty with
practicability which reflects credit upon the good taste and
intelligence of those who planned and had charge of its construction.
This beautiful $40,000 structure (church records indicate final
construction cost closer to $60,000) not only provides an ideal House
of God for worship of those of the Methodist denomination, but
constitutes a wonderful contribution to the aesthetic phase of
Eupora’s fine cultural development. Church and school progression
follows closely commercial and industrial accomplishment to make of
Eupora once of Mississippi’s outstanding small cities.” And we happen
to continue to agree with all of those assessments.

The first quarterly conference for organization, as well as the first
revival were both held in May of 1943. In keeping with this May
worship tradition, on Sunday, May 5, we will celebrate those 70
wonderful years, but in a way that reflects not only the values of
our past, but also our present styles and future hopes.

Beginning with morning worship led by our Youth Praise Team and
ending with a special Children’s Choir program all about Grace, it is
sure to be a day to remember. More information will be released in
the coming weeks.

But we are not only celebrating 70 years in our present location; we
are celebrating our 140th anniversary as well.

Although the Methodist presence in the area dates back to Allen and
Thomas W. Castle (brothers and Methodist clergy) and the brush arbors
of the 1850s (where the present Eupora Cemetery is located, which was
originally the Methodist Church cemetery); it was not until Dec. 10,
1873, that the Mississippi Annual Conference organized the Methodist
Church here as “Early Grove Methodist Episcopal Church South.” under
the leadership of Presiding Elder K.R. Jones (the great-grandfather
of our own Pete Fortner Jr.) and the Rev. William S. LaGrone as pastor.

The first church building was constructed at the site in August of
1874, before moving to its second location on Fox Avenue (in the area
between CB&S Bank and the post office parking lot) in July 1891. This
wooden frame church was used for worship until the completion of the
red brick church on the corner in 1911. But it was during this move
in 1891 that changed the church’s name from Early Grove to “Eupora
Methodist Church.”

And the rest, is as they say history. The past of this amazing church
and its people is so intertwined with the story of our beloved
community that the two are inseparable. And it has ever been our
endeavor to be a people who are working to transform ourselves, our
families and our community to the glory of Jesus Christ. For 140
years the people called Methodist have striven to do our part to
bring about the Kingdom of God here in our little corner of the world.

Here is to 140 years filled with successes, failures from which we
learned, joys, sorrows, weddings, births, funerals, potlucks and
Easter egg hunts. And may God continue to bless us with many, many more.

For more information about this or any of the ministries of EFUMC
contact the church office at 258-2611, check the church Facebook Page
or www.euporafumc.org.