Historic Church Celebrates Homecoming

"Everything in the world has happened at this place at one time or another," Pete Bennett said.

And the lifelong church member would know. He's been attending Coalville United Methodist Church for 80 years.

Members of this church have been lifting their voices in praise since 1852, when the church was established in a community known as Coalville. Coalville was eventually renamed Woolmarket, but the church's name remained the same.

"The community used to be called Coalville, and they did that for charcoal. And they'd take it to the Biloxi River. But after that played out, they brought wool in and hence Woolmarket. They've kept the Coalville because that's the original name of the community," said Rev. Joe Reynolds.

The church has had its share of adversity over the past century and a half.

"There's been three structures. One of them burned down," Rev. Reynolds said.

A new church was built after the fire, but it was leveled in 1967 and replaced by the current sanctuary.

"It's been changes, but it's been good changes. We had the old church, and the new church came, and we had more people coming in," said church member Merna Bennett.

Despite all the changes, the church has been a steady place of worship and has deep roots in the community. And after all these years, the church is still growing.

"The wonderful thing about this church is that we're in a transition from a small, rural church to a more popular church, and there's a good mixture of diversity," Rev. Reynolds said.

And church members say anyone will be welcomed with open arms at the church that's known as the "Light on the Hilltop."