Celebration set Sunday
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
First United Methodist Church of East Brewton is celebrating its 100th birthday, and as with everything that gets older, change has been inevitable. Whether it's old buildings being renovated or new faces being welcomed into the congregation, the church is always a place of transition.
Some historians say that Methodists were already worshiping in East Brewton before there was a building in which to meet. According to one member of the congregation the beginning may date back to the days of Fort Crawford.
Tradition places the first building, which was made of logs, to the rear of what was known as the home of the late Mrs. Callie Weaver. The second building was in the area of the old city hall on what is now Forrest Avenue, between Dailey and Shoffner Streets.
When the East Brewton Academy was built in 1889, the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian ministers each held one service a month in the school building. The Presbyterians presented a silver chalice to the congregation of First United Methodist Church of East Brewton, which was used for communion and is known to have been used as early as 1880. The Rev. J.M. Shofner and the Rev. B.C. Glenn were pastors while at the school.
On Sept. 22, 1905, the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South paid to J.H. Brandenburg and his wife, Bessie, the sum of $50 for the parcel of land on which the present church is now standing.
Fundraisers were held and the women of the church had dinners, ice cream suppers and cake sales to help. The church was erected across the street from where East Brewton City Hall is now located. It was a large wood frame building, which in later years was covered in brick, and the congregation moved into their new sanctuary in 1907.
In the 1950s the fellowship hall and new Sunday school rooms were added downstairs. It was during this period that more land was purchased next door and a parsonage was added. Before that time, the parsonage had been located on Forrest Avenue near where the old post office was. In fact, couples today can remember exchanging vows.
Bill and Myron Pugh were married in the old parsonage and they are still members of the church today.
In 1982, the new church was built on the land that had been purchased for the parsonage 30 years before and the congregation moved into the present building, and on Sunday, the sanctuary of the old church will be used to display the history of the church with memorabilia and photographs.
Over the last 100 years, many things have changed. New faces are welcomed, while many pastors have come and gone. Today, Dr. Jim White is leading the congregation and making plans for the future. The spiritual needs of many citizens of East Brewton continue to be met in the church, which began 100 years ago in the homes of the faithful.
The congregation has made big plans for Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005, beginning at 10:45 a.m. The Rev. John Dickinson will bring the message and there will be special music during the morning worship service.
Following the service, lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall. Following at 2:30 p.m. will be a Centennial Celebration Service. Included in this service will be a time for all previous pastors to share their memories.
There will be a “repeat performance” of the great Susanna Wesley, mother of John Wesley, who is considered to be the father of Methodism. Susanna Wesley was a remarkable woman who gave birth to 19 children, nine of whom died at a very young age. John Wesley was her 15th child.
The story is told of her throwing her apron over her head to shut out the noise and confusion of the outside world while she prayed. Anne Dalton, wife of pastor Perry Dalton will present the performance about Susanna Wesley.