Churches filled with rich history

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

Growing up as a preacher’s kid, churches have never been a foreign place to me. Most of the time I felt just as comfortable sitting in a church pew as I did sitting with my family at the kitchen table.

So, when I was given the assignment to research a local church in Marion for the upcoming edition of Spanish Moss, I felt fairly comfortable with the task.

I expected to uncover the usual facts, like when it was built, who the first pastor was and how many members there are today.

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All of those preconceived notions were immediately proven wrong when I sat down with pastor Eulas Kirtdoll and life-long church members Cora Childs-Moore and her daughter Mary Cosby Moore.

I won’t give away too much, but the First Congregational Church of Christ in Marion is no ordinary church. Built by freed slaves in 1871, this church stands as a pillar of strength for the history of Marion and its people.

I was in complete awe listening to Ms. Childs-Moore as she told me her memories of growing up in the church, which she and her family walked to every Sunday.

As I read the historic plaque placed outside the church, I discovered that it stands as the oldest and most unaltered example of an early black church in Marion.

I found out that people I had only read about in textbooks, such as Coretta Scott King and civil rights activist Andrew Young, have both graced the walls of this Marion church. Young even served as pastor of the church at one time.

After meeting with these Marion residents, I couldn’t help but wonder, what other gems of information are waiting to be uncovered in our local churches?

Selma and the surrounding area are overflowing with rich history and I bet if you sit down with any of these life-long church members, a plethora of history can be gained.

Speaking with Ms. Moore, a picture of Jim Crow laws and segregation was painted for me. It was so interesting to hear a first-hand account of one of the most turbulent times in our nation’s history.

I could almost hear old hymns being sung and people clapping their hands in the church pews as she told me about what the church was like during its heyday.

I can’t begin to imagine what other wealth of information was uncovered in our other stories for the upcoming issue, which focuses on local churches and their histories.

Especially being in the Bible belt, the majority of our history is rooted in our churches. I’m sure locals who have been attending these churches since birth have so many interesting stories just waiting to be told.

So now, as I look back on my childhood in the church, I can’t help but wonder, what kind of history was I surrounded with?