A building that has played a big role in helping Peal River County recover from Hurricane Katrina is now debt free.
First United Methodist Church of Picayune held a note-burning and Consecration Service for its Pittman Family Life Center June 4.
Since Hurricane Katrina, the Family Life Center has housed more than 400 volunteer workers from all over the United States, who have given more than 115,000 man-hours in helping area residents recover from the storm.
Dr. Aubrey Lucas, lay leader of the Mississippi Annual Conference and retired president of the University of Southern Mississippi, was the featured speaker at the worship service. Other speakers included FUMC member Karl J. Scott, one of those instrumental in the initial planning for the new center; the Rev. John Harper, who was pastor when the Family Life Center was opened and consecrated in May 2002; the Rev. David Lowery, current pastor, and a member of the T. E. "Gene" Pittman family, for whom the facility is named.
Church members raised or pledged about two-thirds of the required funding for the $579,000 facility and a donation of $250,000 by the Pittman Family Foundation made it possible to complete the center in one phase, blacktop adjoining parking lots, and reduce the financing period from 15 years to seven years. Generous and consistent contributions from church members allowed the note to be paid off in less than five years.
The First UMC Family Life Center actually began many years ago, as early as 1958. A forward-looking congregation began acquiring lots near the church as they came available, with the plan to build in the future. All of the land had been acquired by the early 1990s. In the late 1990s the Long-range Planning Committee decided that the time was right to bring up plans for the facility.