Historic Assembly is Gifted Property

2/22/2021

Gulfside Assembly, Inc. in Waveland, Miss. was recently gifted the St. Rock property to aid in serving the community with administrative space to carry out mission and ministry. Gulfside had been renting the old St. Rock United Methodist Church for its business headquarters, for a few years since the church’s closing in late 2017. Both St. Rock and Gulfside lost their buildings in the destructive path of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. After the hurricane hit, a church from the northern part of the country traveled to the Gulf Coast to rebuild St. Rock. Unfortunately, St. Rock ended up closing years later and Seashore District trustees decided that St. Rock’s building could be fertile ground for ministry at Gulfside Assembly.

In the segregated Jim Crow Era things were separate, but definitely not equal. African Americans were excluded from accessing public facilities like hotels and public beaches. Bishop Robert Jones, who was the first black leader of the Methodist Episcopal Church, sought out the help of Methodist churches to raise money in 1923 to purchase 300 acres of land and leased over 316 acres to form what we now know as Gulfside Assembly, Inc. Gulfside was the first facility on the Gulf Coast where African Americans could swim and use the beach. Over the years, lots of ministry happened at Gulfside from April through August. There were camps, YMCA, girls clubs, boys clubs, retreats and seminary courses for African Americans.  Gulfside became a place where black and white Methodists could quietly come together, despite Mississippi’s strict segregation laws.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gulfside and all its buildings—including the $3 Million facility that had just been dedicated—lay in ruins. As we commemorate Black History Month this February, the gifting of the St. Rock property to Gulfside aids its pursuit towards recovery and its commitment to be partners in advocacy and catalyst for change for generations to come.  

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