Sunday, August 3, 2008
Shrock Methodist Church, circa 1862
Several weeks ago, my parents mentioned to me that they would be going to yet another 100th birthday celebration. Actually, this would be the second 100th birthday celebration they would attend in just less than a year, since my Great Aunt Laura Branch Jones turned 100 years old last year, and my parents traveled to Durant, Mississippi for a gathering at Smokey Joe's to help celebrate. Mind you, my parents are in their 80's, but my father still drives. A birthday commemorating one hundred years of life is an event to celebrate by anyone's standards, and my parents thought it important enough to travel about 50 miles on a hot Sunday to attend.
The birthday was for Anna Jones Covington, Duncan C. Covington's mother, and the celebration was at Shrock Methodist Church, located near Goodman. The Covington family has been involved in the church there for many years, and the church community itself has been an important part of that part of Attala County. That part of Attala County is where the Covington, Shrock, and my Porter families owned land and lived and raised their families for over a century now. The old Shrock home is a historical structure, and descendants of the Covington, Shrock, and Porter families still own land and live in the area.
According to Duncan's book, "The People of Shrock Mississippi 1885-1922", the church was built about 1862. Records available show the church has been an active part of the Mississippi Methodist Conference for years. Many Attala County families have celebrated christenings, weddings, and funerals in that church for over a century. And at least one grave exists in the churchyard, that of Alex Mabry's young daughter, who was buried there in the 1800's.
I recall attending worship services there occasionally as a child and a young girl when our family would visit my Great Aunt and Uncle, Melba and James Porter, who lived near Sallis. My father was named for James Porter, and as his "namesake", maintained a very close relationship with his uncle throughout his life. The relationship was even closer after his own father died in 1979. The church and its wooded setting always reminded me of "The Little Church in the Wildwood", and I still remember the beautiful old piano and its round stool that graced the front of the church near the altar.
Our Great-Grandmother, Margaret Susanna ("Maggie") Merriweather Porter, "Mama Porter" to our family, lived with her son, James and his wife Melba, and we gathered there to celebrate her birthday a number of times when she was in her eighties. During many of our visits with the Porters, our family would attend church services at the Shrock Methodist Church, and several times we stayed for "Dinner on the Ground". Everyone brought a covered dish, and there was so much fried chicken, southern-cooked vegetables, homemade rolls, cakes, and pies that it was absolutely sinful! Growing children, like my siblings and I, were always hungry no matter how much we food we ate, but the adults must have needed a long nap to recover from those lunches!
Mama Porter died in 1969 at the age of 93, and at one time, she was the oldest living member of the Shrock Methodist Church. Now Anna Covington has that honor. I know her family must be so proud to have celebrated her 100th birthday with her at the church that has had such a meaningful history to their own family and to so many other families, including my own.