Tornado Victim: Ebenezer Baptist Church

The tornadoes that ripped through the state last weekend from Eagle Lake through Yazoo City, Holmes County, and Choctaw County spared the large historic districts in Vicksburg, Yazoo City, and Lexington, but Friday’s Clarion-Ledger reported that at least one historic place was completely destroyed. The sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, located in the rural community of Ebenezer in Holmes County and reportedly dating to the 1870s, was completely flattened.

I happened to take a black-and-white photo of the church way back in 2001 when film was still the thing.

Ebenezer Baptist Church (c.1878-2010), Holmes County

According to the Clarion-Ledger’s “Trail of Destruction: Survivors recall tornado’s fury“:

My great grandfather was a deacon of this church,” Steven Edwards said, standing in front of the flattened sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church. “There is a lot of family history here.”The tornado cut a deep swath of destruction through this rural community, destroying dozens of homes and killing one resident. The 132-year-old church is a landmark on the road connecting the community with Lexington.

Edwards, following family tradition, is a deacon at the church. He said the congregation had been praying for a spiritual awakening for Ebenezer. This might do it, he said. Fortunately, the storm came along on a Saturday, he said.

If it had been a day later, we would have all been sitting there,” he said, pointing to the rows of pews now holding up a the church’s splintered roof.

The print edition of the C-L has a photo of the destruction, but the online edition doesn’t that I can find. The Kosciusko Star-Herald site has a shot of some of the nice jigsawn work found in the rubble.

Ebenezer–a word I should have known since it’s part of one of my favorite hymns, Come Thou Fount, but didn’t–means “stone of help“:

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I’m come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.

Categories: Churches, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation

4 replies

  1. I hate to see yet another landmark lost. It is almost easier, however, when landmarks are taken by the force of nature rather than by human hands. At least it wasn’t willfully destroyed. Do you think there’s much chance of its being reconstructed as it was?


  2. I agree–I felt the same way on the Coast about the many houses destroyed outright in Katrina, versus the many that were damaged but repairable and were later demolished. I don’t know the plans for the church–there’s still a congregation, so I presume they plan to rebuild, but other than that, I’m not sure.


  3. May 6,2010

    I am a teacher with the Yazoo City Public Schools. I work with Mrs. Webster who is very active in her church. She has requested my help in obtaining names of people in your area that might be in need of help. Her church is seeking the names of the individuals and the help they need. If possible, please e-mail names and addresses to me that I might deliver this to her. You may call Webster Elementary at 662-754-4093 to verify my identify. Mrs. Webster and I are Christians who wish to help those that were hurt during the recent storm. Thank you, Chona Parker


  4. I am a historian who is writing a book about the Rev. George W. Lee of Belzoni for the University Press of Mississippi. Rev. Lee, who was killed for his voting-rights activism, served as pastor of several Missionary Baptist churches in Humphreys, Leflore, Holmes, and Hinds (Jackson) counties from the late 1930s to 1955, when he died. I have heard that he also pastored the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in/near Ebenezer, Mississippi, which, I’m told, was destroyed/torn down in the 1960s. Can anyone confirm that Pilgrim Rest ever existed?


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