Kingston celebrates church building’s rededication

Published 2:19 pm Saturday, May 5, 2007

NATCHEZ — On May 3, 1857, one 150 ago, a small group of Methodist gathered to hear the Rev. William Winans and the Rev. William Watkins dedicate a new church building at Kingston. Over the years this building has had a few needed repairs, but in 2006 the exterior of the building was completely repaired and in 2007 the interior was refurbished.

On 11 a.m. Sunday there will be a celebration of this congregation’s Methodist heritage and a rededication of this building.

Following the service there will be a covered dish lunch in the fellowship hall. It is expected that some of the former ministers will attend this celebration along with friends and families who grew up attending this church.

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Whereas the church building is 150 years old, the congregation dates its history to 1773, when the Rev. Samuel Swayze was the minister for a group of families who came from New Jersey to settle a land grant given to Amos Ogden by the King of England.

These families, called the Jersey Settlers, were Congregationlist; Swayze had been a Congregationalist minister in New Jersey and served in that capacity in the Kingston community until his death about 12 years later.

The Jersey Settlers had no church building, but met in homes. When the Spanish occupied this area, only the Catholic religion was allowed to be practiced; during that time the Settlers met in secret in a cane break along the banks of a creek that still goes by the name Sammy’s Creek.

After Swayze died, the Kingston Methodist Church was organized in 1800 by the Rev. Tobias Gibson with only seven people in its membership.

They were Caleb King, Gabriel Swayze, Lydia Swayze, Prudence Cory, Deborah Luce, Prudence Varnadoe and Eliza King.

In 1803 Lorenzo Dow sold his watch to purchase the first ground in the Mississippi Territory deeded for a Protestant meeting house. That church was built of logs and served the community for about 20 years.

In 1822 Daniel Farrar donated a plot of ground on which a second church was built; this one was of brick. The tornado of 1840 nearly destroyed the Jersey Settlement and did considerable damage to the church, but it continued to be used until 1856 when the present building was erected.

The current building sits on eight acres of land deeded by Ann Mary Dougharty Farrar and her husband Alexander King Farrar, a son of Daniel Farrar.

Over the years Kingston has usually shared a minister with other Methodist churches. Some of those churches have been Washington, Mars Hill and Maple Street and in recent years, Lovely Lane.

The congregation at Kingston has usually been a small but dedicated group of worshipers who strive to serve the community and maintain the building. It is with a sense of joy and thankfulness that the congregation will rededicate the building on May 6 at 11 a.m. Visitors are welcomed.