Carpenters for Christmas
— Mississippi Freedom Trail —
In October 1964 the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church was destroyed by fire after a Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party rally there led by Fannie Lou Hamer. On December 22 church members and other volunteers, along with Oberlin College students, began rebuilding. On Christmas Day, with four walls erected, a service was held. By January 2 the building was operable again as a church and meeting place for civil rights activities. Antioch was one of almost forty churches burned in Mississippi during a six~month period that year.
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, founded by former slaves, was the first black church in Tippah County. Its building was one of almost forty churches burned in Mississippi during a six-month period in 1964. Five students from Oberlin College in Ohio were present at a Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party voter registration rally the night the church was burned. Stunned, they took the news home to Ohio. In response seventeen Oberlin students, along with three faculty members, devised a plan with church members to rebuild, calling themselves Carpenters for Christmas.
Between December 22 and Christmas Day, the team completed the foundation and
erected four walls, in time for Christmas services led by the church's pastor, the Rev. John R. McDonald, and featuring a scripture reading by Cleveland Sellers, local COFO project director. The remaining walls, roof, and steeple were completed before the end of the Christmas vacation. On December 30, Mrs. Annie Devine addressed a Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party rally at the reconstructed church, attended by the volunteer carpenters and more than 200 members from the community,
Erected 2014 by the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division. (Marker Number 17.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Churches & Religion. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Freedom Trail series list. A significant historical date for this entry is January 2, 1964.
Location. Marker is unreadable. 34° 38.713′ N, 88° 58.435′ W. Marker is near Blue Mountain, Mississippi, in Tippah County. Marker is on County Road
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this location, measured as the crow flies. Antioch (a few steps from this marker); First in Tippah County (within shouting distance of this marker); Antioch Colored School (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Academy Baptist Church (approx. 1.3 miles away); Dr. Jessie Mauney (approx. 3˝ miles away); Blue Mountain College (approx. 3.6 miles away); Southern Literary Festival (approx. 3.6 miles away); Macedonia Baptist Church (approx. 5.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Blue Mountain.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 25, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 24, 2021, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 32 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 24, 2021, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Clear photo of the reverse side of marker. • Can you help?