East Springhill Missionary Baptist Church is over a hundred years old, making it the oldest African American church in the city of Nettleton, MS. The church motto is: “For a better church tomorrow, it is our responsibility today.” According to Pastor McKinley Whitley, East Springhill “is a church where everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Among the church’s ministries is healthcare. A number of community events have been held in past years addressing chronic illnesses, such as cancer awareness. More recently, covid-19 testing and vaccination have dominated the church’s outreach. Over the past year, the church conducted outside parking lot worship service as well as Facebook Live access to encourage social distancing and adherence to CDC guidelines.
Rev. Whitley, along with his church leadership, First Lady Rolanda Whitley, and congregants, is determined to spread the gospel, not the virus. “I couldn’t allow the pandemic to keep me from doing what God called me to do and that’s to preach His word. Regardless of the pandemic, God’s people still have to be fed. During this pandemic, I adopted the slogan: ‘Spread the word of God by any means necessary.’ That’s just what we have done, rain or shine. I feel that church was put on the back burner during the pandemic and it’s time for the church to stand.”