Legacies that last


By Rev. Tom Dent, pastor, Woodbine United Methodist Church

Woodbine is a quiet little town in southeast Georgia. There’s a church there that has a rich legacy that dates back to 1893. A legacy that began when a man named James King Bedell gave the land and the money necessary to begin a Methodist Church in the town he called home. More than 120 years later that church is still a vital part of life in Woodbine. Recently that legacy was celebrated by the great-great-granddaughter of Mr. Bedell as she and her fiancé were married there.

Back in February Rev. Tom Dent, pastor of Woodbine United Methodist Church, received an email from someone in South Carolina asking if the church could be used for a wedding. Not knowing who the person was Rev. Dent asked her to call him. A few days later Caroline Haney contacted him and explained that she had been doing some research on her family and thought that a relative of hers had some connection to the church. When Rev. Dent asked who the relative was she answered “James King Bedell.” Rev. Dent laughed and told her that he did have some history with the church – if it wasn’t for her great-great-grandfather the church may not exist!

When Caroline asked if she and her fiancé, Alan Billings, could get married there, Rev. Dent said, “Of course.” He then asked Caroline if she had ever been to Woodbine. She hadn’t, and Rev. Dent suggested that she and Alan visit so they could get a feel for the town. When they arrived a month or so later Rev. Dent gave them a tour, including the original sanctuary which now serves as the church’s fellowship hall. 

Caroline fell in love with the church and its connection to her family. She and Alan scheduled their wedding for October 3, 2015, and met with Rev. Dent for their pre-marital counseling. The picture was taken on the day of their wedding.

Family heritage is important. In a world where families are scattered there’s something special about finding and celebrating your roots. 

In the South Georgia Conference we have many churches that have a rich and long heritage. For hundreds of years God has been using these churches to transform people’s lives. If you are a part of one of these churches, make sure you take the opportunity to remember the faithfulness of those who have gone before you to help build God’s Kingdom.

As Christ followers we have roots that need to be celebrated, too. Take some time this week and thank God for your salvation and those who helped to make it possible. The greatest legacy that any of us will ever leave is the one that points others to Christ.