United Christian Church: The Year in Retrospect
We’ve come a long way! Situated in Jackson, MS, is a sixty-five year old congregation located in the historic Gowdy community. Gowdy, an African American community, was first settled prior to 1903 and is named for W.B. Gowdy, former president of the Delta Cotton Oil and Fertilizer Plant. The plant was located on the opposite corner from the church and provided job opportunities for the community residents. Gowdy encompasses the areas known as Washington and Jackson College Additions. Jackson State University lies near the church, and many of the early faculty members and students lived in Gowdy. Early residents were skilled in carpentry, masonry, music, nursing, teaching, and streets were named for black leaders and presidents. Like many black churches in the area and across the United States, United Christian Church was a mecca for social engagement, economic empowerment, theological reflection, and artistic expression.
The time would come for transition and transformation due to internal and external forces such as (1) changes in demography, (2) economic meltdown, (3) exodus of millennials and youths, and (4) urban flight. After August 2021 and without permanent leadership, United would find itself at the crossroads of an impasse for its survival. We decided to survive with much prayer, supplication, and support from the Great River Region, and now we are thriving. The journey is made easier with the present leadership of Pastor Rufus Edwards. Pastor Edwards is a godly man who embraces a vision to be a faithful, growing church that demonstrates true community, spirituality, and justice in the church, community, and beyond. Our membership has increased and will be enriched due to the History & Polity session held on January 16, 2022, facilitated by Rev. Dr. Nadine Burton.
Our congregation has been engaged in other community activities. For example, a clothing give-away, free fruits and veggies, grab n’ go lunches, and partnering with the Washington Addition Neighborhood Association for a neighborhood cleanup. Internal activities include bible study, more structured committee organization, strengthened policies and procedures, improved financial oversight, repairs of building infrastructure, and training for elders and deacons. We are indeed grateful for the financial support through grant funding from the regional office.