Midway Missionary Baptist Church
By Rev. Lee Clemons, Pastor and Bro. M. N. Nichols, Church Clerk
Midway Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1878 by the Reverend Prolon Pringle with the assistance of some white friends of the community. It is located five and one-half miles northeast of Decatur, Mississippi, just off the Decatur-Little Rock Road. A warranty deed is recorded on page 118, Book 99, Newton County Deed Records, showing that the church property is comprised of 4.1 acres.
The original organizational meeting was held in the home of Brother Prince Thames. The first staff of officers was as follows: Deacons Ben Thames, J. D. Wells, Frank Thames, Sandy Nichols, and Simon Thames. Deacon Ben Thames also served as Clerk of the Church.
Rev. Prolon Pringle was called as the first pastor of Midway M. B. Church and accepted the call by stating that he was willing to serve as long as he and the congregation could agree. During his ministry, he ordained two ministers, Rev. Sandy Nichols and Rev. J. D. Wells. Under the leadership of Rev. Pringle more than 300 members were united with the Midway Missionary Baptist Church. Also, during his tenure of more than 45 years, Rev. Pringle built three churches. He died in October 1924.
The second pastor, the late Rev. L. L. Lee, was called in February 1925 and served until his death in September 1929. The second staff of officers included Bro. J. R. Bufkins, who served as Church Clerk for 32 years and Bro. H. R. Nichols, who served as Church Clerk for 30 years.
The third pastor, Rev. J. L. Pearson, was called in February 1930 and resigned in 1933. The third staff of officers included Deacons C. H. Thames, E. J. Nichols, S. B. Windham, Sam Wells, and Noah Tingle.
Pictured Right: Worn CSA marker in Midway Cemetery for Benjiman Thames, Company D, 13th Mississippi Regiment, Civil War. Slaves served the Confederacy most often as servants, but at times served as combatants. Their service was honored by an annual pension provided to all indigent Civil War veterans as well as the placement of a marker at their grave site.
Rev. J. B. Burley of Meridian, Mississippi, served as the fourth pastor of the church, being called in December 1933 and resigning in December 1948. The church was rebuilt in 1935 by Mr. Henry Jones of Newton, Mississippi, along with the help of community members. Some members of the community gave lumber to be used in the building of the structure which was the fourth church to be built on that site.
The fourth staff of officers was Deacons E. D. Phelps, J. W. Thames, and Ben Thames. Bro. M. N. Nichols began serving as Church Clerk in 1950 and has remained in that position (at the time of this writing) for the past 43 years. The Rev. S. B. Windham was ordained in 1940.
The fifth pastor, Rev. J. H. Robinson of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was called in February 1949 and resigned in 1954.
The sixth pastor, Rev. J. T. Hall of Laurel, Mississippi, was called in December 1954 and resigned in 1959.
The seventh pastor, Rev. J. H. Baber of Ackerman, Mississippi, was called in August 1959 and served until his death on March 17, 1970. The fifth staff of officers, as of November 1963, was Deacons Clifton Windham, James Loper, and Tyree Windham.
The eighth pastor, Rev. S. B. Towner of Decatur, Mississippi, was called on April 19, 1970 and resigned on December 1, 1972.
The ninth pastor, Rev. Rudolph Whitehead of Lawrence, Mississippi, was called on December 9, 1972 and resigned on June 1, 1975.
The tenth pastor, Rev. I. C. Allen of Laurel, Mississippi, was called on November 30, 1975 and resigned on December 7, 1975.
The eleventh pastor, the Rev. Leo Clemons of Philadelphia, Mississippi, was called on February 15, 1976. Since this date, the following deacons have been ordained at Midway: Bertis Thames (1978), Jessie Boler (by letter, 1979), and Walter E. Gardner (1990).
Throughout its history the Midway congregation has sought to improve the facilities for their worshippers. Recent improvements have included the following projects:
- 1962 addition of two Sunday School classrooms
- 1968 church renovation and repairs
- 1976 -- Addition to building to include five classrooms, restrooms, choir extension, and construction of a basement facility for use in cooking and storage.
- 1993 construction of a handicapped ramp.
In the year 2004 Midway realized the age of 126 years in the service of the Lord, thankful in great part to the early members who thought it possible and the leaders and workers who made it happen.