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Plant City Observer Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 4 years ago

Springhead UMC plans for 75th anniversary

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Since Springhead United Methodist Church was founded in 1939, its members have always considered it an anchor in the community, and they will celebrate its history at a special service this weekend.

Mildred Joiner, a charter member, was old enough in 1939 to still have memories of the church’s first days.

At the time, there was no Methodist church in Springhead. A group of neighbors who identified with the denomination began to meet in one another’s homes for fellowship and worship. Soon, they had a plot of land, but they could not afford a building.

“We used to meet on Sunday afternoon under the oak tree,” Joiner said. “My parents, my brother and I were always in attendance.”

Those first church members planted a garden on the grounds, and sold the produce to raise money for a sanctuary to be constructed. Joyce Camp, Joiner’s younger sister, remembers bundling and selling the green onions that their mother grew in the garden.

Even though the nation was just beginning to emerge from the Great Depression, the church members managed to raise enough money for their sanctuary.

“It was just hard work and perseverance, and people that were so interested in having a Methodist church in the community,” Joiner said.

Later, in that original sanctuary, which still stands today, Joiner married Albert Joiner. Albert was a Methodist pastor whose ministry was based in Georgia, so the couple lived there for about 50 years.

The Joiners retired to Inverness, and after Albert died, Mildred moved to Lakeland to be close to her two sisters. She was close enough to Springhead to return as a member.

Two additional living charter members still attend the church: sisters Zelma Winn and Leila Barber.

In honor of its 75th anniversary, the church has a celebration planned for Sunday, Oct. 12.

Instead of the usual 11 a.m. start time, this weekend’s service will begin at 10 a.m. A special volunteer choir from outside of the church will provide music for the morning.

Pastor Patrick Elmore said the anniversary service could bring in a significant increase from the church’s usual attendance, because former members and other guests with ties to the church are planning to come. He is expecting between 100 and 150 people. As Elmore has been getting more connected with the community, he has discovered memories of the church reach far beyond its current congregation.

“I’ve been amazed,” he said. “When I say ‘Springhead,’ so many people have different memories.”

Joiner is dedicated to the church for the same reasons she was 75 years ago.

“We were all country people that stuck together, prayed and played together,” she said. “That atmosphere is still here. Though we’re much fewer in number, the spirit is the same.”

Contact Catherine Sinclair at [email protected].

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