A Brief Galloway History
In 1836, fourteen years after the City of Jackson was founded, a group of one man and four ladies organized the city’s first church – a Methodist Society. That small band of faithful Methodists were responsible for what is now the oldest thriving Christian congregation in the city, located in the heart of downtown Jackson.
During those early years, the congregation met in the Mississippi State House, a small brick building which was made available to them when the state legislature was not in session. The Methodists purchased the lot on which Galloway now stands for $50, and the congregation went into debt for almost $5,000 to construct the city’s first church, which was completed in 1839.
In the true spirit of John Wesley, the men and women who organized the First Methodist Church began in those early years to direct their efforts toward a community-wide ministry. Members have continued to assume leadership roles in city and state government, in the work of the national church, and in an active program of service, study and worship.
A second sanctuary was completed in 1883. The pastor who laid that cornerstone, Charles Betts Galloway, was appointed to First Methodist Church in 1873, a young man just 24 years of age. He was elected a bishop in 1886 at the age of 36. Bishop Galloway died in 1909, and in 1916 the third sanctuary was completed. When it was dedicated in 1917, First Methodist Church was re-named Galloway Memorial. The congregation celebrated the 100th anniversary of their sanctuary in 2016 after completing a thorough renovation of the entire building.
During the 1960s Galloway struggled with the issues of civil rights, first closing and then opening the doors of the church to all who came to worship. During this turbulent era, nearly one third of the church’s membership left the church, most moving their memberships to churches in the suburban areas of Jackson. Galloway’s membership declined until the 1980s, when a slow turn around began. At that time, after prayerful deliberation, the congregation made an intentional decision to remain a downtown church open to all people.
A dedication to Christian principles and a spirit of reconciliation have united the congregation in service to God and to those in need, whatever their station in life.
The congregation began to see itself not as “Fort Galloway” but as “Port Galloway,” welcoming all persons to join their fellowship of service. Recognizing the need of persons in the downtown area who are living on the margins and are hungry, homeless, and in need of both physical, mental and spiritual healing, the Grace Place Ministry recently celebrated its tenth year of service. The ministry offers a welcoming setting where the homeless receive a hot meal, participate in weekly worship services and receive assistance with clothing and other physical needs. Several Jackson-area churches have committed resources including volunteers and donations of clothing and necessary items.
Galloway continues to experience steady growth, especially in the number of young families and young single adults, and seeks ways to help all people at all ages and stages of life to feel loved, nurtured and supported. In the midst of the numerical growth, Galloway is becoming a multi-cultural church as more and more members reach out in service to the community, seeking to become the hands and feet of Christ in our world. Although the circumstances have not always been easy, Galloway Church has continued to grow not only in numbers but in areas of ministry to its members and to the people of the Jackson community.