Sand Ridge celebrates new buildingBy DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,
When Sand Ridge MB Church celebrates its 210th anniversary this November, it will do so in a state-of-the art facility. The church has a history that dates back before Mississippi was even a state. Sand Ridge’s legacy began in 1807 as a slave church built from wooden planks in the deep woods in the northern part of Jasper County.
In 1901, the land was finally turned over to the church’s congregation, and on Jan. 23, 1902, the legal deeds were recorded by the Jasper County Courthouse in Bay Springs.
In 1930, the original church structure was burned in a mysterious fire, and services were moved temporarily to an African-American school in the Roberts community in southwestern Newton County. After some members disagreed on where to build the new church, several of them formed their own churches in their communities.
Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Nebo Baptist Church and Mount Calvary Baptist Church were all formed during this time, and Sand Ridge soon built its second building in Roberts which was then a fully functioning town with three stores, a post office and train depot.
A new church was built in the early 1980s in Lawrence and it lasted until the second decade of the 21st Century.
“This is the fourth time the church has been rebuilt on three different sites,” said longtime member Diane Chapman. “We started on the groundbreaking of the new sanctuary in 2013.”
Several years ago, Chapman’s daughter in law’s father was visiting from Memphis, Tenn., and served as the inspiration for the church’s future home.
“Years ago, when he visited the old church when he was going back to my house, he passed through here and said that we need to build a church over there. I looked at him and laughed to myself,” Chapman said. “We’re weren’t about to build a new church let alone move from where we are.”
However, when the old church building began to deteriorate, the church’s current location on Bethel-Roberts Road south of Newton, was the only available piece of real estate.
“We were looking for land closer to where we were already but it wound up that this was all we could find,” said Chapman.
Under the leadership of current pastor Rodney Young, the church held the groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 18, 2013.
The Rev. Johnny Robinson assisted the church as the project manager for the design and construction phases. The new church features a kitchen, a dining room, two classrooms, four monitors and a sanctuary that seat more than 150 worshipers.
The church held its dedication service on Sunday, May 28 and continued with a weeklong revival from May 30 to June 2.