Community center debuts during Sunday service in Bude

by Sean Dunlap
A near-capacity crowd was on hand Sunday, Nov. 14 for the final service at Bude United Methodist Church and to debut the Bude Community Foundation's community center building. A near-capacity crowd was on hand Sunday, Nov. 14 for the final service at Bude United Methodist Church and to debut the Bude Community Foundation's community center building.

A near-capacity crowd was on hand Sunday, Nov. 14 to watch history in the making as the Bude United Methodist Church hosted its final service and the nonprofit Bude Community Foundation officially took possession of the facility for use as a community center.

In opening the program, Ray Carlock said Sunday’s event was a celebration of the 100-plus years history of the congregation and a commitment to the future of what had been a center for worship at the corner of Highway 184, Main Street and Third Street.

“This church served and ministered to this community throughout its history and now there will be a continuation of reaching out to our neighbors through the Bude Community Foundation,” Carlock, who is a member of the foundation’s board of directors, said.

Debbie Impson, who was one of the last members of the church, shared some of her recollections of life within the congregation dating back to the mid-1970s.

“I want to thank everyone for your attendance for this final service and to all of our past members through the years,” Impson went on to say.

“So many people have been through these doors, and there are so many memories of days gone by. I’m the last man standing — literally — as the last member of this church. It makes me feel old.”

Impson recalled numerous fellow church members by name down through the years and their contributions to the family of faith that called Bude United Methodist Church their home.

In addition, her father — Jennings Poole, who was a long-time minister at the church — figured prominently in her recollections along with those who led Sunday School and music programs within the congregation.

She noted years of declining participation and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 sped the demise of the church.

“We do owe a thanks to the Methodist Conference as this building belonged to them,” Impson continued. “If they had not given us permission to give this building to the Bude Community Foundation, it would just be sitting here empty.

“My prayer was for this to always be a church, but this is God’s idea and I am so excited to see something that was dead will now be filled with life as a community center.”

Impson said there is a clear understanding that the church was God’s building and the spirit of its congregation will always be present even as the facility is repurposed.

“May He continue to bless all who enter this building for years to come,” she said.
The Rev. John Altman, who pastors Mount Olive, Mount Vernon, Oak Grove and Greendale United Methodist churches, said Sunday’s event was surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses including Poole and Jack Loflin, who was another former pastor at Bude United Methodist Church.

“There are so many that have been mentioned or not mentioned, but all of them played a part in the history of this church,” Altman said.

“People poured their lives out in the service of Jesus Christ through this church, the congregation and this building. Jack and Jennings along with many of the others that were part of this family are cheering on the fact that a community outreach will continue here.

“This will always be a place of outreach, of care, of compassion and of building up the people of this community. This will be a place to gather, offer programs and for other things, and we will always be grateful for that cloud of witnesses who served here in this building and those who will continue to serve.”

Ann Tyson Speyer, who serves as president of the Bude Community Foundation’s board of directors, said the organization seeks to promote and enhance Bude’s quality of life through activities to unify and strengthen citizens and families.

“What we wanted the foundation to be came to us in a nanosecond,” Speyer said. “It will be based on faith, family and fellowship. The timing of everything — from the formation of the foundation to getting this building — was orchestrated by our Heavenly Father.”

Speyer said some of the initial work of the foundation has been to preserve and restore the church building, which was donated to the organization by the Methodist Church Conference.

“It gives us a home base for our work and a place to serve as a community center and a facility to offer learning and enrichment programs as well as a venue for hosting events,” she continued.

“We have plans in the future to make this beautiful facility available for community events, but also to rent for private functions such as weddings, family reunions or class reunions.”

Speyer said she and members of the foundation were grateful to those who have helped to make improvements to the former church building that allowed for Sunday’s service to take place and for the group’s donors.

“Just to get the sanctuary and fellowship hall to where they are today — with many of you remembering there was a hole in the roof — cost the foundation more than $50,000. We thank all of our donors for their tax-deductible gifts.”

Speyer said the foundation would continue to seek funds to carry on and foster its outreach mission in the community, to address needs with the church building in the future and continue to push for the restoration and relocation of the former Bude train depot, which is a state historic landmark.

“The bottom line is that we want to be here to support the community we all love,” Speyer said.

Marsha Webb, who serves as programs director for the foundation, said the group is excited to start its community offerings, which began on Wednesday, Nov. 17 with a “Mommy and Me” educational event for 3- and 4-year-old children and their parents or caregiver at the former church.

“We are planning other ‘Mommy and Me’ programs on Wednesday, Dec. 1 and Wednesday, Dec. 8 along with a ‘Snacks With Santa’ gathering on Wednesday, Dec. 15 with all activities at 10 a.m.,” Webb said.

“There have been some other activities that have been suggested — bingo, lunch-and-learn sessions, craft time, dominoes and possibly a monthly veterans social gathering.”

Webb said the foundation encourages community residents to share their thoughts and ideas about future programs, and to look for plans for upcoming events in the local newspaper as well as the foundation’s soon-to-be-launched website.

“BCF desires to contribute to strong families in our community through positive programming,” she continued. “We hope all of you will join with us by sharing and participating.”

For questions about future programs, Webb also asked people to call 601-384-0805 for additional information.

Also during Sunday’s program, musical selections were presented by Susie Kimbrough, Evelyn Carlock Higgins, Karen Touchstone, Martha Gill Hill and Linda Green.

Refreshments were served after the program in the fellowship hall.