Submitted by Sherrie Wiygul; photo by Glenn Wiygul
Liberty Universalist Church hosted the annual Universalist Convocation May 19-21. Friday and Sunday events were held at the church with Saturday’s sessions meeting in the lodge at Legion State Park. People attended from MS churches as well as from North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, and Massachusetts.
William (Brother) Rogers, MS Dept. of Archives, who spoke about the MS Trail Markers, Mark Tribble, local member who presented a talk on Christian Universalism, and Barbara Waldrop, longtime member of Liberty, who talked about the legacy of Universalism at Liberty Church. Dr. Joe Witt of MSU’s Dept. of Religion, linked Universalism and envionmentalism, and Dr. Maria Rutland of Indiana (a Presbyterian minister), told the fascinating story of an eighteenth-century woman Universalist minister named Rev. Nellie Mann Opdale. After supper Saturday night, musicians Daryl Jones and Mark Tribble played and sang a mixture of hymns and other songs to everyone’s delight. Sunday’s church service brought a message from longtime minister Rev. Richard Trudeau titled “Jesus and the debate about peace.”
As a very small church, putting on a convocation was a large order but everyone pulled together. Judy Crowell of Louisville captained the cooking team with the help of Kaye Gilmore, Jaden Denson, and Bonnie Myers. Attendees raved about the southern menu and were enthusiastic eaters.
Liberty may be the sole remaining church that is purely Universalist, the others having joined up with the Unitarians to become Unitarian-Universalist during the merger of 1961. Liberty decided to stay purely Universalist. Our lay minister, Linda Foshee, was able to come to the convocation and hopes to resume her bimonthly fourth Sunday services after some health concerns have kept her away for some months. The church meets every fourth Sunday at 11 a.m. for a formal service and second Sunday at 11 a.m. for more informal discussions. It is a church that welcomes members of other faiths and several from other denominations regularly attend. If you look at the history of this nation’s founding fathers, you will see that many of them were Universalist. Many of the southern churches were the “offspring” of the South Carolina churches as people made their way to Mississippi. Perhaps its best known belief is that of universal salvation and an emphasis on peace and justice.