Church still going strong after 119 years

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Ruth Memorial Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest organized religious bodies in Poplarville. The church is located at 809 Julia St.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

Ruth Memorial Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest organized religious bodies in Poplarville. The church is located at 809 Julia St.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

“We are a family of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord seeking to understand and follow his teaching. We bring our diverse social, political and theological perspectives to be woven together in community. We seek to glorify Christ in the heart of Poplarville through our worship, fellowship, witness and service. We welcome all to join us in our journey of faith, trusting God to change us, our community and our world.” –– Rev. Sally-Lodge Teel, Minister at Ruth Memorial Presbyterian Church.

The above quote can be found every Sunday in the bulletin at Ruth Memorial Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest established bodies of worship in Poplarville.
The church was established in 1896, and was first named First Presbyterian Church, Elder David St. Louis said. The Rev. H.W. Wallace served as the church’s first minister from 1896 until 1926.
In the early 1900s, the original building burned down and the current building was built around 1926, St. Louis said.
However, the congregation used what materials they could from the wreckage to create a new place of worship, he said.
The name was changed to Ruth Memorial after the passing of one-year-old Ruth McCantz, whose family provided funding for the new building.
St. Louis, a Colorado native, moved to Poplarville in 1985. The retired MSU research animal scientist said he visited area churches, but from the first moment he entered the church, he “knew he was home.”
At the time, there were 35 members, but over the years that number has risen and fallen, he said.
“Sometimes there was only two of here at worship service,” St. Louis said. “But we never closed the doors on a Sunday.”
For the past 15 years, Rev. Sally-Lodge Teel has served as minister.
In 2005, the winds from Hurricane Katrina caused damage to the church and the elders decided it was time for renovation and remodeling.
The original building was made from all wood and fiber sheetrock, he said. The outside featured clapboard, which was later covered with vinyl siding. The church’s original windows had to be replaced and the original slate roof was replaced with an asphalt one, St. Louis said.
“Everything was covered in green carpet, including the pews,” St. Louis said. “We found pine wood floors underneath and had a guy clean, sand and seal them.”
The church features a sanctuary, two Sunday school rooms, a pastor’s office, kitchen and restroom, St. Louis said.
The Presbyterian Church of America’s theology comes from Scotland and is a reformed creedal church, meaning the congregation goes by creeds, St. Louis said. They have a book of order revised almost every year, however the Bible is still the authority.
“Presbyterian means form of government,” St. Louis said. “We have elders who make the decisions and every member has a vote on who the elders are. In larger churches, there are elders and deacons, we just have elders.”
St. Louis said he wishes more people knew the church was there, most people drive by this place every day and don’t know it is there, he said.
“We encourage people to come visit our church,” St. Louis said. “We all come from different religious backgrounds and settled here because it meets their needs.”
Services are held every Sunday, with Sunday school for all ages at 10 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. The church is located at 809 Julia St.

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