* Sunday Gatherings:
- Sunday School 9am
- SERVICE: 10 am
- Sea Scouts 4pm
- 10am Ladies Prayer Ministry
- 11am Bible Study
- Noon Brown Bag Lunch
- 7pm Choir Practice
story begins early in the 19th Century, when Mobile was becoming a thriving
seaport, and a Methodist mission was becoming a thriving "hive" of activity.
The buzz of energy about the church mission prompted observers to call it the "Bee Hive." Through two centuries of change, five church buildings, various church names and dozens of ministers, the description has held true.
Today, Government Street United Methodist Church upholds its tradition for activity. The church has been a vital part of Mobile's history, and it remains an integral part of its present and future. The legend of the Bee Hive continues to inspire its community.
Government Street Church, Methodism's Mother Church in Mobile, traces its origins to 1819, when the Mississippi Conference appointed the first Methodist missionary to Mobile. By 1824, the number of Methodists in the city had grown substantially and the group decided to build a church.
In 1826, the first church, little more than a thatched roof on supports, was constructed on the corner of Franklin and St. Michael streets. By 1827,the congregation, consisting of "37 whites, 47 blacks, and many Indians," completed the first wooden structure.
Because of its industry and activity, the name Bee Hive was soon applied to the church. The discription took on more meaning as the church sent out "swarms" of members to form or strengthen new Methodist churches.
In 1832, the church became self supporting and changed from a mission to Franklin Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The membership grew and a two-story frame lecture room was built to accomodate the crowds.
The first "swarm" left the church in 1840 to form what became St. Francis Street Church. A second swarm left to organize West Ward, which became St. Stephens Church. Later, some of its members would assist in establishing Dauphin Way Church.
A third "swarm" formed today's Big Zion AME Zion Church. A fourth established the German Mission, and a fifth "swarm" started Toulminville Mission.
In 1851, a sixth "swarm" established South Ward, today known as St. Paul's in West Mobile. The final "swarm" left the church in 1854 to begin State Street AME Zion Church. The brick structure that was built in 1849 was used until the congregation moved in 1890 to a Gothic church constructed at the corner of Government and Broad streets, thus becoming Government Street Church. Famed architect George B. Rogers was hired to design an extensive remodeling of the Gothic structure to Spanish Colonial style in 1904.
Construction was begun in 1906 and completed in 1917. The building features two impressive stained-glass domes and the largest two-manual pipe organ in the city. The stained glass windows were created by Boston artist Harry E. Goodhue, the American pioneer of medieval techniques of translucent artglass manufacture. A restored stained glass window from the original Gothic structure is in the chancel area.
The elaborate doorway contains within its many baroque details a number of Christian symbols. Look carefully beginning at the base of the columns and working upward and you may find the following symbols:
Bead & Reel: Cycles of Life
Bronze Mirror: Truth
Chi Rho: Earliest known symbol of Christ
Cross & Crown: Reward after Death
Cross of Constantine: Surrounded by the Stone Lace of Mystery and the Acanthus Leaves of Truth
Dove: Holy Spirit. When used with urn it means Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Egg: Creation or beginning of life
Flowers in Festoons: Rose for Love; Lily for Purity; Passion Flower for Sacrifice
Harp: Harmony in the Kingdom of Heaven
Interlocking Circles: Continuity of Life
Olive Leaf Wreath: Peace & Fellowship
Scallop Shell: Early symbol for travelers
St. Andrew's Cross: Andrew asked to be crucified on a tilted cross
Torch: Christian Witness
Twisting Columns: Moving Ever Upward
Urn: Repentance & Water Baptism
There is a great deal of excitement around The Bee Hive these days as we work to restore this sacred masterpiece. We are always delighted to give tours to community groups. There is never a charge for these tours. It is our privilege to share the fascinating story of The Bee Hive. Simply call the church office to arrange a tour for your group. Our long-term goal for the preservation of The Bee Hive is to return the sanctuary and education areas to their original floor plan as designed by George Rogers. This may take many years to accomplish. Many friends and neighbors have contributed to our Partners in Preservation fund, which is solely used for preservation and restoration projects. No gift is too small. Your contribution is tax deductible. Checks should be marked: Partners in Preservation Fund. If you are handy with plaster, plumbing, or a paint brush you are invited to join us for one of our regular work days. You can be a part of restoring one of Mobile's greatest treasures!