Methodists prepare to celebrate 150 years

Published 3:50 pm Thursday, September 15, 2011

Special to the Signal

Members of Fort Deposit United Methodist Church will celebrate 150 years of Methodism in Fort Deposit on Sunday, Sept. 25.

The guest speaker for the morning worship service will be Dr. John Ed Mathison, former pastor of Frazier Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery.

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Mathison retired in June of 2008 after 36 years at Frazier. At that time he and a board of directors established the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries which involves preaching, teaching conferences and seminars. The purpose is to train pastors and lay persons to lead “impacting the world for Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.”

Under his leadership Frazier went from 400 to 8,800 members and had the largest Sunday school attendance for United Methodist Churches in America.

Mathison is currently chairman of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy.

He is a graduate of Opelika High School, Huntingdon College. He received his divinity degree and doctor of ministry degree from Candler School of Theology and a master’s degree from Princeton University.

In 1994 he was selected as National Clergyman of the Year by the Religious Heritage of America. He has written several books.

Since its beginning in the fall of 1861, a church of Methodist faith has stood on the corners of Rogers, Milner and Jones Streets in Fort Deposit. The first church was a simple wooden building facing Rogers Street, which burned in December of 1898.

On Dec. 1, 1899, the Fort Deposit Vindicator stated that “work on the Methodist Church is progressing nicely and ere long one of the handsomest edifices in the country will adorn our town.” The original cornerstone of marble was laid in 1861 and states, “Erected 1861, Re-erected 1899.”

The original carved pews are still in use in the sanctuary and the original circular stained glass windows with stained glass panels has been sealed from both sides for protection.

The fellowship hall and kitchen were added in 1952, additional classrooms in 1954, and the chapel was completed in 1963.

A full day, of activities, is planned, beginning with Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. followed by morning worship at 11 a.m., lunch at 12:30 p.m., concluding with “A Time of Remembering” at 2 p.m. The Time of Remembering is planned to include all former pastors or members who have remembrances of the past concerning individuals or church history.

According to the Rev. Dennis Carlson, pastor, the current church structure held it s first service on Jan. 1, 1900. “We’ve been blessed by God’s grace for 150 years to share his love in our community,” said Carlson.

Advance notice for all who plan to attend would be appreciated by the planning committee, but is not required.

Plans have been made to Video the day’s activities and DVD’s will be available. For additional information contact Carlson at 334-227-8400 or Myrtis Porterfield at 334-227-8905.