LAUREL HILL — When Christian Home United Methodist Church closed its doors after Sunday services, it ended 95 years of ministry.


LAUREL HILL — When Christian Home United Methodist Church closed its doors after Sunday services, it ended 95 years of ministry.



The Rev. Kevin Holland, the church's pastor, said given the church’s declining membership, “the congregation decided it was time to close the small church.”



Betty Willis, a Laurel Hill resident who attended Christian Home with her husband, Jim, said she saw the closure coming.



“We only had three active members," she said, adding that siblings made sure to attend the final service. "All my brothers and sisters grew up there, and they all came home for this.”



So did other former members, as well as friends and supporters from other area churches.



“We had a church full," Willis said. "It was just as pretty and spiritual as it could be."



HISTORY



Members began meeting in 1912 at what was then the Church of Piney Grove, a Methodist-Episcopal congregation that met in the Dixie School on the highway between Wing and Lockhart, Ala.



Under the Rev. W.M. Fuqua and his wife Lydia's direction, the church reorganized in 1919 as Christian Home. A new church was built in 1920, with the first service conducted on Christmas Eve.



“Everything in the sanctuary was handmade at that time: from the benches to the altar,” Holland said.



Up until Sunday, some of the Fuquas' descendants still worshipped at the church, which was the center for spiritual and social activities in the 1930s and 1940s, he said.



“Revivals would draw people near and far with a mule and wagon tied to every pine tree around the church," Holland said. "Dinners were held outside on chicken wire tables.”



HOPEWELL



Christian Home was part of a three-church charge that includes Hopewell United Methodist Church, outside of Laurel Hill, and First United Methodist Church in Florala.



The Willises know where they will worship this Sunday.



“We will go to Hopewell,” Betty Willis said. “We have gone back and forth from one church to the other, and they have come to our church. We’re already like one big church family anyway.”



Upon closing, Christian Home’s ownership reverted to the United Methodist Church's Alabama-West Florida District.



Willis said no decisions have been made about the building's future, though recently there was talk of it being moved to Hopewell to serve as a fellowship hall.



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