Focused on Mississippi: Times change for timeless old church

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Carr United Methodist Church in Smith County was organized 182 years ago and still meets in the original building. The oldest active member of the church, Tommy Gilbert, has been there for half that time and tells us about the church. “I was baptized 92 years ago so I was told. And I’ve been here ever since except for the time that I was overseas in World War Two.”

Carr United Methodist Church is near Pineville in Smith County. That’s about 10 or 12 miles south of Forest. Tommy says church, and the reason for it, was different when he was growing up here. “Back in those days we didn’t have TVs or anything like that. So it was a place for the community people to gather and fellowship. You just learned to appreciate your neighbors more then than you do now, whereas now you don’t have that much contact with them.”

Shirley Kinkead lives in the community and told us, “When I was a little girl our house burned. And this church and the community around here got together and filled our freezer up. You lived out of your deep freezer.”

There are older church congregations in the state, but few if any are still in their original building. Carr United Methodist has been using this one since 1837. Still has the original pews and alter area. Tommy says, “And it used to be pine weatherboard on the outside. In the 1980s we put this vinyl siding around it.”

Tommy adds, “Most of the members here now are retirement age. We don’t even have a young people’s Sunday school class, all adults. People feel like they don’t have to be churched. Whereas years ago everyone went to church. It’s a lot of history here at the church. And as I’ve got older I know more people that’s buried in the cemetery than I do on the outside. I’ve got to that age”.

Well, if we are fortunate we’ll all get to that age, have more people we know who are already gone than are still here. Question for us is, where will we have known them FROM? Tommy knows them from church.

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