|Historic United Methodist center suffers catastrophic damage|
Sept. 1, 2005
|File photo by Mike DuBose
Children play basketball against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico at Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Miss. in this file photo.
A UMNS Report
By Elliott Wright*
The United Methodist Church’s historic Gulfside Assembly in Waveland,
Miss., suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Katrina.
Aerial photographs, news accounts and word of mouth reports from the
federal disaster agency indicate that little is left of the community of
Waveland and Gulfside, located on 60 acres directly facing the Gulf of
Mexico on Highway 90. Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi coast
Deaconess Marian Martin, director of Gulfside, and Missionary Wilma
Dunbar, assigned there, were safe, but the fate of several employees
reluctant to leave Waveland was not known.
Gulfside was opened in 1923 as a retreat and recreation center for
African Americans who were not permitted to use most resorts in the
segregated South. It was established by Bishop Robert E. Jones.
An aerial photograph from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration suggests that most of the buildings at Gulfside are in
ruins. The angle of the picture does not permit a good view of a new
residential facility dedicated in mid-August. Some sections may still
The Associated Press reported Aug. 31 that virtually every building in
Waveland was destroyed. Waveland was a town of 7,000 immediately next to
Bay St. Louis, where the eye of Hurricane Katrina made one of its most
|File photo by Mike DuBose
file photo shows the exterior of Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Miss.
Reports indicate that the center was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Edward Moultrie, a retired employee of the United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries and a resident of Waveland, called the agency Sept. 1
to share reports from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
indicating widespread destruction at Gulfside. Moultrie and his wife,
along with Martin, took refuge in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“We mourn for Gulfside,” said the Rev. R. Randy Day, top staff executive
of the Board of Global Ministries. “It is so dear to so many United
Methodists, one of the places that has nourished our souls and fed our
spirits.” The international mission agency has close ties to Gulfside
and its professional staff.
The Gulfside Assembly originally had 700 acres, but much of it was sold
over the years. Use as a vacation spot declined with the civil rights
movement and the racial integration of the Methodist Church in the
1960s. It later rebounded as a setting for church retreats and
At its peak as a resort, Gulfside included a day school for local
African-American boys, and in recent years had expanded its programs for
young people, especially for inner-city youth.
Under Martin’s leadership, Gulfside had seen the renovation of many of
its historical buildings, and the completion of the new facility
recently dedicated by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the denomination’s
Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference. No information was available
Sept. 1 on plans for the site.
*Wright is the information officer of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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