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Spring Hill Methodist to celebrate Homecoming

A local church with a long history will soon be celebrating nearly 170 years of serving the spiritual needs of the community.

Spring Hill Methodist Church, located on Gibson Rd., seven miles northeast of Greenville, celebrates its 169th anniversary with a homecoming celebration this Sunday, August 14.

Worship begins at 10:30 a.m. with an old-fashioned &uot;dinner on the grounds&uot; to follow. Revival services are slated for Monday through Wednesday, August 15-17, at 7 p.m. each night.

Dr. Michael Daniel, a history professor at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, is a member of Spring Hill Methodist. He shared some highlights of the church’s history with The Greenville Advocate.

&uot;The church was first organized in 1836 as a Methodist Episcopal Church. The slavery issue caused a split of the denomination into northern and southern branches.

&uot;For nearly a century, Spring Hill was affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, until the reunification of Methodism in 1939,&uot; Daniel said.

Circuit-riding preachers served Spring Hill and other Butler and Lowndes County churches in the late 19th century.

Daniels said there is no record of when the first church building was erected at Spring Hill.

However, in 1885, The Greenville Advocate published an announcement a &uot;neat snow-white church&uot; had been &uot;reared in the place of the old, old one.&uot;

The church and its generous acreage became the site of many camp meetings, sometimes drawing over 3,000 people.

Folks came from all over to set up tents and listen to speakers share the word of God beneath an old brush arbor.

&uot;Weeping, praying and shouting characterized the meetings, and numerous conversions also occurred…the camp meetings usually succeeded in spiritually uplifting the participants,&uot; Daniel said.

By the late 1880s, however, attendance had declined. &uot;The lack of outside participation, coupled with the dwindling population of the Spring Hill Community, caused the meetings to cease,&uot; Daniel said.

The acreage at Spring Hill Church served many purposes, according to Daniel. &uot;Three separate cemeteries are located on the property, two white and one black…in the late 19th century, a school house was located some 15 yards north of the present church,&uot; he said.

&uot;Those 23 acres belonging to Spring Hill Church have served as the focal point of the Spring Hill Community for over 150 years…regular church services, camp meetings, political meetings, school, picnics and other social activities have been held here,&uot; Daniel said.

By the 20th century, employment opportunities in urban areas began to lure many Spring Hill residents away; church membership declined. The spring at the bottom of the hill is now overgrown with trees and bushes.

However, Daniel says, the &uot;neat snow-white church&uot; still stands, and services are conducted there every Sunday.

&uot;We want to invite everyone to come and celebrate and fellowship together with us at Spring Hill Methodist this Sunday,&uot; he said.