PMC enjoys historic celebration

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Doug Chandler, pastor of Pollard Methodist Church; Robin Brewton, vice president of the Escambia County Historical Society; Sally Finlay, church historian and long time member of the church and Hugh White, president of the church committee admire the church’s newly erected historical marker.|Photo by Lydia Grimes

Pollard Methodist Church was honored Sunday as the Escambia County Historical Society placed a historical marker at the church forever documenting the rich history of the more than century and a half old structure.

Hugh White welcomed members and guests to the church, located about 10 miles south of Brewton, and Sally Finlay offered her poem composition as a way of recognizing the historical significance of the church. Both Finlay and White are descendants of long-standing members of the Church.

“I want to welcome all of you who have come out today for this special occasion,” White said.

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The historical plaque was unveiled during the ceremony as guests and members watched and the church’s pastor, Atmore resident Doug Chandler prayed during the outside ceremony.

“I have not been the pastor of this church for very long,” Chandler said. “But it didn’t take very long to become part of the family here at Pollard. We are a family and not just a church congregation.”

The plaque reads as follows: “A Civil War structure, this is the oldest church building remaining in Escambia County, Alabama. Confederate veterans related stories that mules and horses were sheltered inside the church during harsh winter months. Circuit riders served the church in the early days and in 1869, Robert F. Mountain was pastor. The bell was a gift from a riverboat captain named Kelley, in gratitude for the aid church members gave his crew and passengers when his vessel wrecked and burned on the nearby Conecuh River. Methodists were in this area as early as 1830. In 1984 Pollard hosted the Methodist bicentennial celebration for Brewton, East Brewton, Cedar Hill Zion AME, Flomaton and Century, Fla. Marker placed by the Escambia County Historical Society.

According to the history of the church, written by Finlay, the building was saved from destruction during an invasion of Union soldiers because of its location.

“The main part of Pollard used to be farther to the east and the church was actually located on the outskirts of town,” Finlay said. “The white clapboard pre-Civil War structure, built of hand-hewn logs of virgin pine, is the oldest remaining church building in Escambia County.”

The windows of the church are European stained glass, serving as memorials to longtime dedicated members and bear the family names of Jernigan, Kelly, Dixon, Finlay, Owens and Walker, Finlay said. These names could also have been found in the list of early church members.

The exact date the church was organized is unknown due to records being lost to fires and floods, but early church history relates how “camp meetings” were held in the area in the early 1830s.

It is believed that the present church building was erected in the mid-1850s and Laura Kelly Daily (1882-1979), church secretary for more than 50 years, and faithful member for 75 years, related that her father, Joseph William Kelly, who was born in 1846, told her that he attended the church as a young boy. Written records of former pastors have been maintained since 1869 when Robert F. Mountain was pastor and the church was in the Pensacola District.