The Mississippi History Museum is preparing to open its doors next month, just in time to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.
One of the exhibits in the museum recognizes Mount Helm Baptist Church, a landmark in Jackson.
“I don’t think we would have much of an American history without the black church — from music to food to the culture,” Pastor C.J. Rhodes said.
That same year, when slavery was abolished, a white Presbyterian business leader deeded the land where the church still sits, and the first Mount Helm building became a home for change in black communities.
“In the 1880s, we housed what is now Jackson State University,” Rhodes said. “The Church of God in Christ, which is the second largest African-American congregation in America, got its roots right here at Mount Helm.”
Mount Helm has long filled the history books of Mississippi, and now, a replica of the church’s first structure sits inside the Mississippi History Museum.
“It was built in a way to be accurate to the 1898 site,” museum director Rachel Myers said.
Museum visitors will be able to walk through a replica of the church and step back in time to 1868.
“They may get a taste of what it was like to sit in a pew in the 1860s,” Rhodes said.
Visitors will watch a film inside the exhibit on the reconstruction era narrated by Rhodes.
Rhodes said when he stands at the pulpit on Sundays, he thinks about those who stood there before him and hopes that with the partnership of the museum, that Mount Helms’ handprints in Mississippi history will inspire others.
“Every Sunday, we’re inspiring our members that God can do the impossible,” Rhodes said.
“They built on hope and this idea that Mississippi was going to be better for them and their families,” Myers said.
The Mississippi History Museum and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will open to the public Dec. 9, marking the state’s 200th birthday.
By Allie Ware.
You can view this article and the video from WAPT News here.