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Holcomb United Methodist Church
Holcomb United Methodist Church

A community
of faith

Today, Holcomb has four churches: Holcomb Baptist Church on Tuscahoma Street, Holcomb United Methodist Church on Paschal Street, New Tuscahoma A.M.E. Church west of town on Tuscahoma Road and St. Andrews Baptist Church at the corner of South Main Street and Tuscahoma Road. Nearby churches also are part of the community. Bethel Baptist Church, Saint Peter Missionary Baptist Church, the Church of God of Prophecy at Turkey Foot Fork  and Mount Zion A.M.E. Church are near the Oxberry community. Sparta United Methodist Church, south of town, was built in 1835, long before Holcomb was founded.
Holcomb Baptist Church
Holcomb Baptist Church
Old Holcomb Baptist Church
A snowy photo from the 1950s shows the old Holcomb Baptist Church in the background.
Webb family
Jeanette and Derrill Webb and their son Steve site on the steps of the old Holcomb Baptist Church.
St. Andrews Baptist Church
St. Andrews Baptist Church
New Tuscahoma A.M.E. Church
New Tuscahoma A.M.E. Church with the bell from the old church.
Church fire images
Steps and a pew remain from the old Tuscahoma A.M.E. Church.
Sparta United Methodist Church
Sparta United Methodist Church
Sparta church entry
Details of the Sparta church entry
The first Holcomb Methodist Church was built on the south side of the railroad close to the east end of town shortly after the town was established in 1901, according to research by Ruth Holcomb. Services were held in this building prior to completion in 1903. E.H. Rook was the first minister, with a congregation of 10. This building was destroyed by a storm in 1908.

A new church, built by Sam Curle and located at the corner of Paschal and Lyda streets, was completed in 1910. It was a white frame building on pillars with four steps up to flush double doors. These opened into a foyer with small Sunday school rooms on each side and double doors opening into the sanctuary. The sanctuary had tall narrow paned windows on each side. The choir was on a platform behind the lecturn and altar rail. Hanging lamps, first oil and then electric, lit the chamber. Several student pastors served this church. In 1916, a parsonage was completed and C.T. Floyd became the first resident minister.

The present brick church was built in 1951 by A.L. Jackson on a lot on Paschal Street donated by E.D. Holcomb, and a new parsonage was built on the site of the second church by Eugene Blaylock in 1961.

The Sparta Methodist Church was built in 1835. According to a "History of Sparta Church" by Eliese Dunn Estes, the cemetery predated the church. The first burials on the site were Indian graves, and early settlers buried their dead in the same area. Several early flat stones are marked with only a last name or "unknown Indian." The earliest settler stone is marked simply "Rozier."

Sparta church began with a log building that served as a church and a school. This structure was replaced by a "plank" building and then by the present church. Early church families included the Carvers, Hobgoods, Neals, Sabins, Mullens, Clarks, Dunns, Fielders, Hightowers, Curles, Peets, Parham and Atkinsons. Services were led by a circuit-riding preacher.

The present church was built by Richard and Jim Lester and completed in 1898. Many men and boys in the community helped in its construction. J.L. "Keats" Carver remembered helping haul brick for the foundation in an ox wagon when he was 12 years old. Bob Fielder and William H. "Babe" Clark made the church altar and benches. A cistern at the northeast corner of the church provided water. In the late 1940s the adjoining educational building was added.

Saint Peter Missionary Baptist Church
Saint Peter Missionary Baptist Church
Mount Zion A.M.E. Church
Mount Zion A.M.E. Church
Bethel Baptist Church
Bethel Baptist Church
Church of God of Prophecy
Church of God of Prophecy at Turkey Foot Fork
Nature offers its own sanctuary for baptisms at the "highway pond."
New Tuscahoma A.M.E. Church, according to history shared by Rosalee Topps, was founded in August 1851 by the Rev. Willis Reynold and the Rev. William Walker on an acre of land donated by J.K Ash. (Later the Rebecca Reed Elementary School at Holcomb was named for one of his daughters, who was a teacher. It was near this school that Freedom Riders rested overnight during a civil rights march in the summer of 1966.)

The earliest converts at the church were 21-year-old Jordan Martin, who was still a member when he died at age 94, and Lucinda Ross, who remained a member until she died 70 years later. Among the early families in the church were the Ashes, Washingtons and Williamses.

The original building was framed of unfinished wood planks with a wood stove for heat and oil lamps for lighting. Gas heat and electricity came later. The old building was replaced in 1973 by a new church built of concrete blocks and running water and restrooms were added. In 1994, this church was remodeled to add a kitchen and dining room, pastor's study and baptismal pool.

New Tuscahoma's bell could be heard all over Holcomb on Sunday mornings, ringing a half-hour early to call people to Sunday school and tolling for funerals. The early church cemetery was on nearby Ash land, but this has fallen into disuse.

Saint Peter Missionary Baptist Church, near the Oxberry community, also has a long history. According to information collected by Karolyn Bridges and provided by Diane Kincaid, the first church was built on a hillside around 1899. The structure was of unmilled lumber. Oil lamps and lanterns hung from the ceiling.

In 1926, the church was relocated lower down in a valley to make access easier. The builder was a man named Bohannon from Leflore. Lumber from the old church was salvaged for the new construction. New lumber was milled by hand. The roof was covered with cypress shingles donated by Ed and Will Harbin and Jasper and Louella Perry.

Church members rode to services on mules and in wagons and buggies. Some walked many miles. The church's deacons provided wood for heating. Facilities included an outhouse at the rear of the church and a cistern for water. To help support the church, women sold basket meals of fried chicken, egg custard and sweet potato pies and vegetables in season.

Wednesday night prayer meetings and revivals were integral parts of community life. When weather made it difficult to reach the church for prayer meetings, members often gathered in each other's homes. In times of flooding, the church served as a place of refuge. It also provided education. Revivals traditionally began in the last week of July and lasted until the first Sunday in August, when baptisms were held. These occurred at the "highway pond," a serene pool reflecting fields and cypress trees, as the congregation gathered singing and the pastor and deacons led candidates into the water.

The church now has a new concrete block building on Highway 35 near Oxberry. Behind it rises the Saint Peter Hill Cemetery.

Mount Zion A.M.E. Church also is more than 100 years old. Located on Old Highway 35/Oxberry Road, the original church is described by 93-year-old Edd Topps as a wood frame building heated by a wood stove with oil lamps for illumination and a nearby well for water. Early families included the Scotts, Reeces, Hughes, McKinleys, Lotts, Bridges, Davises, Adamses, Pittmans and Topps.

This building, about six miles from Holcomb, was abandoned in the 1950s and replaced by a new structure of concrete block and wood at a site about 2 miles closer to Holcomb on the same road. The new church has a paneled sanctuary and fellowship hall and gas heat. The Mount Zion Cemetery lies on a hillside not far away, its mellow old stones a landmark to the church's deep roots in the community.

If you can provide additional information on Holcomb's churches, message churches@holcomb.org.

Sparta cemetery gates
Sparta's hillside cemetery is one of the area's oldest.
Sparta cemetery
Weathered stones and old trees give Sparta Cemetery timeless grace.
Stone and cross
In the Mount Zion Cemetery, a stone cross rests against a moss-covered marker.
Sleep on
"Sleep on Mother" is a fond epitaph for Mount Zion's Mary Perry, born in 1878.
Holcomb cemetery lamb stone
A stone lamb marks a child's grave in the Holcomb Cemetery.
Holcomb cemetery tree marker
A stone tree with lopped trunk and branches symbolizes a life cut short in this Holcomb Cemetery marker.
Holcomb veteran's marker
The Holcomb community sent many of its sons to America's wars. This Holcomb Cemetery stone marks a World War I veteran's grave.
Bethel cemetery
Old trees shade the Bethel Cemetery, creating a sense of peace and reflection.
Dog cemetery
And in a community that loves animals, this rustic chapel marks the dog cemetery on a sunny hillside south of town.
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