162-Year-Old African American church begins rebuilding

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  A Biloxi church with a long history as a beacon to the community is moving ahead with plans for the future. Members of First Missionary Baptist say it is one of the oldest African American churches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. After three years of struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday members dedicated a new foundation.

It's been three years of heartfelt prayers, of high hopes and of painful disappointments.

Omera Baylor is a member of First Missionary Baptist. "Well, they've made several attempts to get started, to get the foundation laid. Then there were those complications with the contractor, getting the loan approved and all of that stuff."

Tuesday was a day of celebration for First Missionary Baptist Church in Biloxi. Members dedicated the foundation of a new church building in the same location as before Katrina.

"The two things that makes a community strong are the churches and the schools,"said Gwendolyn Beck. "The schools have been rebuilt. With First Baptist being the oldest Black church in the city of Biloxi, it means a lot to this community that we are coming back in the same spot that we were in."

Church members say they hope the rebuilding of the 162 year old church will inspire those struggling to keep the faith.

Rev. Eric Dickey said "There are storms in our lives that knock us down  and that set us back. If your foundation in anchored in the Lord, you will always stand up. You will always be prosperous. That's what we believe as a congregation. That our faith is in the Lord and He has not brought us this far to leave us. "

There are more than 400 members of First Missionary Baptist. They say they look forward to making many new memories in their new sanctuary in about a year.