Gulfside ‘Restoration’ – Methodist leaders gather at retreat center
By Stacey Cato
Mar 1, 2016, 19:17
Gulfside Assembly leaders hosted a ceremony to honor the first structure erected on the property since Hurricane Katrina, an open air chapel.
United Methodist leaders and visitors from across the country gathered Saturday on sacred ground in Waveland for the restoration of a historic outdoor retreat center.
Gulfside Assembly leaders hosted a ceremony to honor the first structure erected on the property since Hurricane Katrina. The deadly hurricane completely destroyed the grounds, washing away what was once the only place African-American’s could gather to worship. Organizers say building back is a significant sign of strong will and determination.
"When I come here I can sense and feel my ancestors and everything they had to sacrifice while experiencing segregation – they didn't give up," said Rev. Sharon Bowers, who drove down from Virginia for the inauguration.. "I am connected to that same fight and same willingness for restoration."
Gulfside Assembly was established in 1923 by the first black Methodist Bishop Robert E. Jones. Bishop Jones created a safe haven where people of color, including the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., could unite to praise and worship the Lord.
"At one time we couldn't even walk down Beach Boulevard." Gulfside's President & CEO Mollie Stewart said. "We had to walk through the woods!"
The board of directors of the Gulfside Association of the church dedicated the new open-air chapel after the first African-American woman Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly. Resident Bishop James Swanson Sr. was present for the ceremony.
The cost to build the chapel was more than $100,000.