HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The birth of Phillips Christian Methodist Episcopal Church dates back to the 19th century.
Sunday, it celebrated 158 years of service to the Huntsville community, a milestone making it one of the oldest churches in all of the Rocket City.
With a story dating back to the mid-1800s, some say the church has graced the Huntsville community with a range of services over its more than 150-year history.
Mattie Thomas has been a part of its congregation for 67 years. Thomas says she’s proud of the impact her church has had on the community.
“It’s a matter of reaching out is the outward movement that makes a church more significant and not only do you have a church’s people out there, you have people who need the service that we can offer,” Thomas said.
After the church moved from its former location, it moved to its new home on Winchester Drive in Huntsville.
Some say the transition was challenging, but after overcoming past hardships, Pastor Gregory Scott says resiliency was always a part of their DNA.
“This church started in reconstruction, this church has made it through the turn of the century, this church has made it through the civil rights struggle and Jim Crow,” Scott told News 19. “It made it through the great depression, it made it through Covid. This church has proven that nothing can hinder it from growth, nothing can hinder it from being a beacon in the community, a place of hope.”
Scott explained that it was former enslaved African-Americans who were marginalized and oppressed who established the North Alabama church during the 1860s.
Those like Teresa Snorton, Phillips CME’s first female bishop, say the church paved the way for many in its denomination. It’s why Snorton says it makes celebrating 158 years all the more special.
“It’s been one of those kinds of foundational churches that has helped the CME churches establish itself in the state of Alabama and nationwide. Because of the history of this church, I would say Phillips has been kind of like a model or a beacon,” Snorton said.
The church says it always welcomes new visitors and invites those from across north Alabama to attend services that begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.