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Olive Branch Methodist celebrates 212 years, 150 in same building

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By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

Two hundred twelve years is a milestone by anyone’s standards. This weekend marks the founding of the Olive Branch United Methodist Church in 1800.

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But there’s more to celebrate in the little brick church on Zaring Mill Road.

 “One-hundred fifty years ago, we moved into our ‘new’ building,” said Judy Miller, a long-time member and church secretary. “It’s funny to think of it as the new building; it’s the one we’ve worshiped in since 1862.”

The church was created by the Boswell, Taylor and Figg families who had moved from Virginia and settled near Brashears Creek, The New History of Shelby County reports. Services were held once or twice a month until 1044, when they went weekly.

This weekend, that history will be celebrated by church members, friends, former pastors and church dignitaries who will gather to sing and worship and feast together, giving praise and thanks to God for this little church.

The public is invited to the 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon concert and the 11 a.m. Sunday worship service at 6383 Zaring Mill Road.

On Saturday afternoon, the award-winning Lindsey Family will offer a concert of “toe-tappin', heart-touchin' Bluegrass and gospel music. This family of 11 musicians started out singing together and playing instruments in “bluegrass jam sessions” in their home. They simply bring the songs and music that take place naturally at home to the stage.

“We can’t wait to welcome the Lindsey Family to join our celebration.” Miller said. “Our pastor, Garry Polston, sings with the Garry Polston Family. We enjoy good gospel music here.”

During Sunday morning worship, the church will welcome “quite a few” former members, a former pastor, and a guest preacher, she said.

Some former pastors have sent letters to be read aloud. Rev. Rebecca Curry, assistant to the bishop in the Louisville area of the United Methodist Church, will preach the morning message. District Superintendent Jean Hawxhurst will bring commendations to present to the 212-year-old congregation.

“We’ve got a caterer coming to serve dinner after the worship service on Sunday,” Miller said. “Usually, the ladies of the church put on the church suppers, but for an event like this, we’re going to have a special meal. We’re going to have the women step out of the kitchen and join in the celebration.

“We’re not a big congregation. We don’t have a lot of money, but the Lord provides what you need. Church members have come through with donations to make this weekend special.”

The church’s historian has made a book which tells about the stories and history of the church. “We’ll have them for sale this weekend; proceeds will go toward the cost of getting the books published,” Miller said.

“This is a wonderful church. I drive over from near Chestnut Grove to be part of the congregation. I could go to any church between my home and here, but when I first came here in the mid-eighties, I met the most friendly, giving and thankful people. I wanted to be part of a small church, where everyone knows everyone else and cares about one another. We know we have to pull together to make things work. It’s just the kind of church I was looking for. I’ve been here ever since.”