Historic church continues to inspire service to others

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 16, 2015

READING FOR THE BLIND: First United Methodist Church member Jim Johnston prepares a sheet of paper with braille, which will be made into books based on the Bible.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

READING FOR THE BLIND: First United Methodist Church member Jim Johnston prepares a sheet of paper with braille, which will be made into books based on the Bible.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

About 132 years ago, a group of devout Christians decided to form a Methodist church in Poplarville.
Today, members of the First United Methodist Church are still “fighting for the Lord” and spreading God’s love and message through mission work.
Mary Etta Moody has been a member of the church since 1967 and said she loved the church immediately after she found it.
The church’s current structure was built in 1926, after the original building burned.
The building is made of heart pine, cypress and oak. People who take a stroll or drive by the church will notice the ornate stained glass windows.
The church is home to about 400 members and many of them participate in a variety of mission services.
On Thursday, volunteers spent their morning working on braille Bibles.
Member Peggy Labue said the church works in conjunction with Lutheran Braille Workers, Inc. and the church makes about 64 children’s Bibles a month.
“The books we make feature four books of the Bible, Psalms 1 and 2, John and Chronicles,” she said. “There are about 18 of us who meet once a week to make them. We welcome volunteers from all types of religions.”
After the bookmakers wrap up for the day, the merry mat makers entered and began pressing plastic grocery bags flat.
The bags will be cut and crocheted into a mat for a homeless person, Labue said. They are sent to Biloxi’s Seashore Mission. Volunteers from the Methodist Church also bring food every second Sunday.
“The mats are very durable and keep occupants warm,” Labue said.
The church also sponsors the Backpack Buddies program, which provides weekend meals for needy children, Moody said. In addition to braille Bibles, volunteers also make large print Bibles and sponsor a Boy Scout troop, a square dancing group, the Blueberry Promenades and the Poplarville Storytellers, which is the oldest storytelling group in the South, she said.
There are many other groups, including those for youth, women and men, prayer and music, Moody said.
Eric and Lisa Pridmore were appointed pastors about four years ago. Serving alongside Pridmore is his service dog, Atlas. Pridmore suffers from a progressive eye disease but has some residual sight. He can see light, shadows and outlines of people, he said.
Atlas, Pridmore’s golden retriever, is dedicated and admired by the congregation, Pridmore said.
“He is well-trained and well-behaved,” he said. “He is a great example of service and sacrifice.”
The Columbus, Mississippi native is a graduate of Mississippi State University, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and received his Ph.D. in sociology of religion from Drew University in New Jersey.
Pridmore said the loss of his sight allows him the ability to identify with people and their struggles.
“Life is not always fair or the way we want it to be,” he said. “But you can do something with the struggles you have. Hopefully, people will see in me somebody that didn’t quit.”
The United Methodist Church is located at 708 S. Julia St. Contact staff by phone at 601-795-4519 and through email at office@poplarvillefumc.org.
Learn more about the church at www.poplarvillefumc.org and Facebook.
There are two Sunday morning worship services, one begins at 9 a.m. and the other at 11 a.m. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox