Pine Flat Methodist celebrates 150 years

Published 11:29 am Monday, September 22, 2008

The simple, white-columned wooden structure stands as a testament to the faithful and to those with a hardy pioneer spirit. Come October, Pine Flat Methodist Church will once again ring with voices united in praise and worship.

One hundred and fifty years after its establishment, descendants of the original founders and their friends will come together to celebrate the long history of Pine Flat Methodist Church and its cemetery next month. The sesquicentennial worship service is set for 11 a.m., Sunday, October 5. Guest speaker, the Rev. William A. Earnest from the Alabama-West Florida Conference, will bring the message.

Mrs. Charles R. Terry Jr., church organist, will accompany Mrs. Ken Renforee, Mrs. Earnie Lewis, Miss Hannah and Miss Channing Glenn for the day’s special music.

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Mrs. Myralyn Traweek Bailey will conduct the memorial service, while Mr. and Mrs. McDuffie Stallworth, Mrs. Wayne Wall and Ms. Ann C. Henley are slated to serve as registrars. Charles Terry III will serve as acolyte while Mary Helen Poole and Hannah Glenn will be the usherettes. An old-fashioned “dinner on the grounds” will follow the service.

Attendees are asked to bring a basket lunch, folding chairs and folding tables.

“We are most thankful for what we have been able to do to keep up this wonderful old church and its historic cemetery. As always we look forward to our annual homecoming and decoration day,” Mae Poole, a trustee of Pine Flat Cemetery, said.

In the spring of 1858, 21 charter members organized the Pine Flat Methodist Church. The first minister was Theophilus Moody. With the help of their slaves, the men of the community felled the virgin pine trees and had then sawed with a jigsaw at Bowen’s Mill. The Colonial-style building, with square columns supporting the church roof, originally featured a gallery that was entered from the porch.

“At morning services, the slaves sat in the gallery. At afternoon services, the slaves sat in the downstairs pews and any white people attending sat in the gallery,” Poole said.

“The center pews were divided with wooden partitions to separate the men and women, with some of the members designated as ‘shouting Methodists.’”

The original frame building was renovated in 1967 when descendants came together to carefully restore the historic church’s pews, altar, pulpit and other areas. The gallery was removed in the early ‘70s.

“While the church no longer holds regular services, its members, along with members of the cemetery association, work diligently to maintain the buildings, grounds and cemetery,” Poole said.

October 5 will also serve as the church’s official “Decoration Day” for its historic cemetery.

“We of the Pine Flat Cemetery Association cordially invite family and friends to attend this homecoming as we celebrate 150 years of God’s faithfulness. This is quite a milestone,” Poole said.