Marika Cackett, manager of communications and publications of the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “Travelers can visit a multitude of our churches, either during service or other arranged times. Metro Jackson has over 750 churches of nearly every congregation known, including a Buddhist and Hindu temple.”
Religious Attractions and Churches in Jackson
Mount Helm Baptist Church is the oldest African-American church in Jackson. The church was founded in 1835 when enslaved African-Americans worshipped in First Baptist Church’s basement. The church was officially born in 1867 when the 13th amendment was ratified. The church is named after Thomas E. Helm, a white Presbyterian businessman, and his wife Mary. They donated land for the church to be built and money for construction in 1868. Mount Helm Baptist Church historically housed Jackson College (now Jackson State University) classes from 1883 to 1885. The Baptist State Convention, Church of Christ Holiness (USA) and the Church of God in Christ all began there.
Farish Street Baptist Church was founded when Rev. Elbert B. Topp, pastor of Mount Helm from 1888-1893, left with over 200 members. The new congregation held services at the Congregational Church until they raised enough money to buy land and build their church.
Woodworth Chapel is on the campus of Tougaloo College. The chapel was built by students in 1901 and restored in 2002. Union Congregational Church holds services there on Sundays. The chapel has served as a meeting place and educational center during both World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. spoke there.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral is the Cathedral Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. The cathedral was built during 1902 and 1903 and is the parish’s third building. The Gothic-style cathedral has stained-glass windows and some remaining amber glass windows. St. Andrew’s parish served 41 members in 1843 and now serves over 2,000.
The Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle Church is the cathedral of the Diocese of Jackson. Bishop John Chance arrived in Mississippi in 1841 and dedicated the first St. Peter the Apostle Church in 1846. This church was destroyed by fire during Gen. Sherman’s raid on Jackson in 1862 and was not rebuilt until after the Civil War. The current Gothic-style cathedral was dedicated in 1900 and has stained-glass windows depicting paintings of Raphael and Murillo.
Jackson’s Tourist Attractions
The Manship House Museum is a Gothic Revival-style antebellum house. Charles Henry Manship, a merchant and painter, built the house in 1857. The house is now restored to it 1888 appearance. View the film to see how the house was restored and see 19th century art and family memorabilia in the visitor center. The Oaks House Museum, also known as Boyd House, is an 1853 Greek Revival-style cottage that survived the burning of Jackson. Guided tours are also available for the Eudora Welty House. Welty, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, lived in this Tudor Revival-style house from 1925 until she died in 2001.
The Old Capitol Museum is located at the building that served as the seat of Mississippi’s government from 1839 to 1903. The Greek Revival-style building’s domed rotunda is 94 feet tall. Renovated components include the governor’s office and the House and Senate chambers. The museum features displays on regional history and state constitutions and has a Hall of Fame exhibit recognizing state natives.
The Jackson Zoo has 120 species and over 700 animals. The zoo also has a children’s petting zoo and an endangered species carousel.
Learn about Mississippi’s agricultural, economical and technological development at Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry/National Agricultural Aviation Museum. Exhibits recount Mississippi farm life and equipment. Highlights are the Fortenberry-Parkman Farmstead, a replica of a small town in Mississippi during the 1920s, a cotton gin and a nature walk identifying native plants and trees.
The Mississippi Museum of Art exhibits over 4,000 pieces, making it Mississippi’s largest art museum. The museum displays a large collection of art by and pertaining to Mississippians and Mississippi’s heritage.
The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is dedicated to preserving Mississippi’s biological diversity and environment. The museum has ecological exhibits, mounted wildlife specimens, interactive displays and 2.5 miles of nature trails. Be sure to see a 100,000-gallon aquarium system containing over 200 native species and “The Swamp,” a greenhouse.
Sports lovers should definitely stop by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum features artifacts, footage and interactive exhibits commemorating Mississippi athletes and sports personalities. Visitors can view footage and hear interviews of important events in Mississippi sports history and learn about Mississippi Olympians. One exhibit is dedicated to baseball pitcher Jerome Hanna “Dizzy” Dean and showcases his 1934 World Series championship and Hall of Fame rings.
The Russell C. Davis Planetarium is a great place to learn about astronomy, science, space and travel. The planetarium shows documentaries, films and laser light shows in the Ronald McNair Space Theatre.
The Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center is an African-American heritage museum housed in the former Smith Robertson School, Jackson’s first public school for African Americans. School was in session from 1894 until integration closed the building in 1971. Locals prevented the building from being torn down by opening the museum. Exhibits include From Slavery to America 1670-1864, African-American Lifestyle in Mississippi, Civil Rights Gallery (Jackson, Mississippi, Movement) and Mississippi Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Cackett mentioned that Malaco Records, the largest recorder of gospel music, is also located in Jackson.
Jackson Events and Festivals
Cackett said that religious group travelers “might enjoy…any concert by Mississippi Mass Choir, Carols by Candlelight at First Baptist Church in December and Belhaven College’s Singing Christmas Tree.”
Other Jackson events include Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade (March), Crossroads Film Festival (April), Jubilee Jam (music festival in May) and Jackson Christmas Festival (December).
Religious group travelers will enjoy visiting the historic churches and religious sites in Jackson. Its attractions and restaurants also will entice faith-based travelers.