Page 23 - Hancock County Tourism ~ 2021 History
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Do you know about...
Gulfside Assembly
For over 100 years this quiet beachfront property in Waveland has served
as a beacon of hope and goodwill to thousands of people in need of beneficial change in their lives.
Segregation in the
early 1900s denied African Americans access to hotels, churches, restaurants, public facilities, and recreational opportunities. Bishop Robert E. Jones, the
first black leader of the Methodist Episcopal Church, decided to find
a way to partly solve
the problem. He raised $4,000, bought several hundred acres on the beach in Waveland, and established a Methodist camp where blacks could visit the beach and swim. In 1924 it was the first place of its kind on the entire Gulf Coast.
Descendants of President Andrew Jackson had once owned a large mansion on the property, and this was converted to a meeting facility where black and white Methodists defied segregation laws and continued to meet. As
time went on, pastors, prospective pastors, and various children’s groups all took advantage of the camp’s amenities, and a year-round school for poor black boys also opened. New buildings and an auditorium
were eventually added. By 1960, the Gulfside Assembly was debt-free and held assets worth over $200,000. Despite ongoing segregation, the assembly continued to host racially integrated events and inner-city youth programs.
A catastrophic Hurricane Camille caused extensive damage to
the buildings in 1969,
but they were quickly restored, rebuilt, and used again until their complete destruction by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The facilities were gone but the mission to help
others remained. Instead of concrete buildings, temporary shelters were set up to house hundreds of volunteers who came
to assist in cleanup and recovery efforts.
Since that time, the prayer chapel has been rebuilt. It is named in honor of the United Methodist Church’s first African American female bishop, the late Leontine Kelly.
 Robert E. Jones Hall at Gulfside Assembly
 Open Air Chapel at Gulfside Assembly

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