Galloway United Methodist Church is the oldest Christian congregation in Jackson. We recently celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of our present sanctuary. With such a long history, there were many stories and historical events witnessed in our church. Several years ago, Carol Andersen, a member of Galloway and Assistant Director for Programs for the MS Humanities Council, approached the Congregational Life and Care Team about an Oral History Project for Galloway. Oral histories collect and record memories and personal insights of events of historical significance. After informational meetings and interviewer training, the project began. The Finance Committee granted approval to request $2500 from the Mississippi Humanities Council to initiate an Oral History program.
Over a three year period, long time Galloway members were interviewed. They reached back into their past to recall children’s programs, choirs and activities they participated in as children. They reminisced about Galloway produced musicals and dramas that attracted members as well as the community. While some stories were lost over the last century, the stories shared have given a glimpse of Life at Galloway through the years. Have you ever heard someone tell of sitting in church on Sunday Dr. Selah stepped down from the pulpit? Or did you know the third floor once held a bowling alley the youth of the church enjoyed?
It was import to capture the memories of members who played a vital role in the history of Galloway. Some of the themes around which sets of interviews were conducted included civil rights, mission programs, development of the building, drama and music programs, and the influence of the United Methodist Women. Twenty-four interviews were completed, including eighteen with older members and five thematic interviews that covered Grace Place, the Mary Martha and Altar Guilds, Congregational Care, the beginning of Operation Shoestring and renovations and expansion of the church property.
Harriet Kuykendall and Mary Alice White served as co-chairs for the Oral History Committee. Louis Kyriakoudes, Director, Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, USM, provided expertise and guidance to the committee. Bound copies of Galloway’s Oral Histories are available for check-out in the library on the third floor, and on the Galloway website. In addition, the Mississippi Humanities Council helped make possible the printing of of Galloway’s Centennial memory books. The books include the stories and memories of many of our members about life at Galloway through the years. Just as history has been witnessed over time, history will continue to be made at Galloway in the future. The purchase of recording equipment will make it possible to continue gathering oral histories in the years to come.