Many Andalusia ties in Lillian Methodist

Published 1:10 am Saturday, April 4, 2015

As Easter approaches, my thoughts turn to Easter 1984, the day of the dedication of the Lillian United Methodist Church to the glory of God. It is hard to believe that it was 31 years ago when an excited and thankful crowd gathered in the brand new building following Easter worship service for that memorable event. It was the result of a seed planted by Minnie Lee Pritchett, originally from Andalusia, who believed that Lillian needed a United Methodist Church. God blessed and nurtured that seed to its fruition through service and contributions from members, friends and other churches.

In June 1981, my husband Claude was appointed to serve the 50-plus congregation that was meeting in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. The Rev. Robert Moore, minister of the Foley United Methodist Church, began holding a 9 a.m. service after the congregation organized in August 1980 and chartered in December of that year.

I recall the day Claude preached his first sermon in that tiny green chapel where everyone sat in chairs loaned by the Lillian Volunteer Fire Department. It was also in that building where the congregation committed to erect a church to lift up the name of Jesus Christ to the community. Following a long and sometimes discouraging search led by Minnie Lee’s son-in-law, Bob Donnenwirth, the right plot of land was secured. Plans then moved toward erecting the building.

When some people hear the story of how New York architect Don Waite and his wife Marion, wintering in Lillian, happened to attend the Sunday Claude announced we were seeking an architect for the building, they might call it a coincidence. We called it providence—Don pledged himself to draw the church plans for no fee. Members contributed generously and some stepped forward to offer time and talents in the building process. Contributions, large and small, monetary and otherwise, also came from friends, relatives, and other churches. Several businesses contributed or discounted building materials and services.

During a ceremony in April 1983, ground was broken for the new building. Plans called for a seating capacity of 210. At that time, the congregation numbered 111. Also, on Easter Sunday 1983, we gathered at the building site for a sunrise service. The sun did shine, but it was a nippy cold morning. Agnes Mason, our pianist, sat at a portable keyboard her husband Tharon set up for her, to provide the music. She wore a warm cap and pressed the keys of the instrument with gloved hands. She said she had never been so cold, but like the rest of the crowd, her heart felt warmed.

Through the years, a fellowship hall and parsonage have been added. Many of the original congregation, including Rev. Moore, Claude, and Minnie Lee, have gone to their heavenly home. To this day, the Lillian United Methodist Church continues to fulfill its mission to the glory of God. Isn’t it wonderful what happens when God plants a seed with one of his own?