This story is from the October 11, 2021, Daily Mountain Eagle. Reposted with permission.
Former church members say it is an answered prayer that their church property will once again be filled with children.
The former Curry United Methodist Church and property will soon be deeded to the Walker County Board of Education.
A dedication ceremony was held on Sunday afternoon at Curry United Methodist Church (located in front of Curry Elementary, Middle, and High schools), and a resolution was signed by members of the Central District North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church to formally state the intent to deed the church building and property to Walker County Schools.
Jerry Swafford, chair of the board of trustees of the Central District United Methodist Church, and Dr. Rick Owen, district superintendent of the Central District United Methodist Church, signed the resolution.
The church and property are being donated to the school system with an understanding that the site will be used to educate children.
According to Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dennis Willingham, board member Trent Kennedy, who represents Curry schools, was instrumental in bringing community stakeholders, administrators with Curry schools, WCS Chief School Financial Officer Andrew McCay, and representatives with the Methodist Church together to discuss the property's potential to be used as an educational area for Curry students.
"Our principal at Curry High School, Mr. Eric Woodley, opened the doors of the school and allowed us to have meetings with our community stakeholders and with the Methodist administration," Kennedy said. "Without our stakeholders, none of this would have been possible."
He added, "This is just a blessing for the Curry community and our school system."
The property of Curry United Methodist Church has a long history, and Sunday's signed resolution was symbolic of everything coming full circle over the past century.
Paul Sullivan attended Sunday's dedication ceremony to discuss how his ancestors, the Milford family, donated the land in 1905 where Curry United Methodist Church sits so that a church could be built there and an adjoining cemetery could be formed.
According to historical information provided to the Daily Mountain Eagle by Sullivan, the first church on the property was named New Hope. New Hope was a Methodist South church when Methodist churches had a temporary division in the Civil War era that resulted in Methodist Church North and Methodist Church South churches.
The original church building burned in the 1930s and was rebuilt. Curry School used the church building in the late 1940s to accommodate overcrowding. In the 1960s, the church was purchased and demolished, and church members used the Curry School lunchroom to hold services until the church was rebuilt (today's existing structure, Curry United Methodist Church).
The final worship service at Curry United Methodist Church was held on May 16, 2021, and led by Rev. Quinten Lochmann.
So, as time would have it, the property was originally donated for a church to be built and now the Methodist Church is donating the property for it to continue being an integral part of the Curry community.
"This property has always served the Curry community, and to see it come full circle, we know that it's God's promise, and we know there's something special about it," Willingham said. "We're so thankful to everybody involved and everybody working together for this to happen for the children of this community."
"To see this come full circle was definitely a God thing," Kennedy said. "The relationship that has taken place, the history since 1905, simply unbelievable how God works."
Kennedy said the usage of the church building has not been finalized, but the structure could be used for Pre-K education.
"We're overcrowded at the elementary school and we really needed some space to serve our children," Willingham said.
Kennedy and Willingham expressed gratitude to everyone involved in the transfer of the church and its property.
Obtaining the church property will also allow the sign for Curry schools to be moved on the same side of Curry Highway where the schools are located. Currently, the Curry schools sign is across the highway at Mount Vernon Baptist Church.
According to Kennedy, Coke has agreed to help move the sign.
"The goal of the board is to give our students, teachers, administrators, and support staff across Walker County a better tomorrow," Kennedy said. "I hope with this resolution it will open doors and provide more opportunities."
Photo: Pictured is Dr. Rick Owen, at far left, reading the resolution to deed Curry United Methodist Church to the Walker County Board of Education. Photo by DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE - NICOLE SMITH