DART: Anonymous donor revealed
The nature of the Dart articles are to randomly put a pin in a map of the county and drive to the spot that it lands on, find a story and write about it. My pin landed on Liberty Road in Picayune and there I discovered a beautiful story centered around the Liberty Missionary Baptist Church.
To drive down Liberty Road is to experience a wide variety of sites and scenery. One of the most breathtaking is a little white church with jewel-toned stained glass windows throughout and carefully manicured grounds.
Places, like words, tell stories.
This church has many stories to tell, but my favorite story is of the little girl named Joan Megeehee Stewart who grew up attending this church with her mother, Annie Megeehee, and secretly designed those beautiful stained glass windows with her daughter, Beth Stewart.
The windows are a lasting symbol of the bond between the church and the Stewart family as well as the mother and daughter.
Liberty Missionary Baptist Church is located at 261 Liberty Rd. in Picayune. It was founded in 1921 and disbanded in 1932 for one year, until Joan Megeehee’s mother, Annie Megeehee, decided she wanted her children and other children in the community to have a neighborhood church.
Stewart said her mother was always very devoted to her family and the church.
“My mother loved the church and her job,” Stewart said. “She did very well for herself with her job and became an executive at First National Bank of Picayune. She loved doing things anonymously for people and decided she wanted to do something special for the church to give back. But she wanted to do it anonymously.”
The mother and daughter met with a stained glass designer, after work hours at the bank, to pour over glass samples and consult on the design. Once the windows were complete, Joan then hired workers to install them in the church.
“All in all it was a project that took several months to complete,” Stewart said. “When the windows were installed, my mother asked those that had to know who the donor was to keep it secret. She felt that it would not be humble to take credit and furthermore she didn’t want credit. That is not who she was.”
The origins of the windows have never been made public, until now, to honor the wishes of Joan Stewart who passed away in Dec. 25, 2006, and is buried at the church cemetery.
The family agreed to let the story be told, because of the random nature of this feature in addition to the facts that the windows are beautiful and they are proud of the woman Joan was.
While it has had some structural changes over the years, the church still stands in the original location and features those beautiful stained glass windows that were the secret project and closely guarded secret of Joan Megeehee Stewart and her daughter Beth.