Gulfside Draws on Past Strengths to Create Sea Song Development

On the gulf coast town of Waveland, Mississippi, facing the sea, sits 60 acres of historical significance for the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.  It was founded in 1923 under the name Gulfside Assemblies by the first Black Methodist Bishop, Robert E. Jones.  Gulfside provided a boarding school for boys from across the segregated south and a theological training center for aspiring church leaders of the future.

Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe, of Texas and current trustee of the new limited corporation for the future Sea Song at Gulfside development knows the history well.  His father attended the school in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  The Bledsoe Family lived in both Marlin and Levelland, Texas and Bishop Bledsoe remembers his father returning from the theological training center and describing the awe-inspiring sights of the sea and giant bridges that spanned the waterways in the area.  “Gulfside was a welcome place with beautiful facilities, great food and a place where one was treated with dignity and respect,” he remembers his father telling him.

The school continued to add to its lasting legacy of ministry training right up until Hurricane Katrina leveled the entire area in September of 2005.  “All of the buildings were destroyed to their foundations,” remembers Bledsoe.  It was then that he and other board members decided to embark upon a national listening tour to decide the future of the Gulfside land in their trust.  From this, the Sea Song at Gulfside community plan was launched.


Sea Song, sponsored by the Gulfside Assembly, is a newly-planned, not-for-profit senior living community which promotes opportunities for personal and spiritual growth in an attractive and comfortable atmosphere.  Though the project has been affected by this summer’s BP oil spill and a sluggish economy, the future is beginning to look as bright as ever.  “We’re ready to move ahead again,” says Bledsoe.  “The villas are ready for construction and we continue to seek the remaining funds necessary to complete the central ministry center,” he says.  “Gulfside has a glorious past and we are entrusted with ensuring its glorious future as a legacy to future generations,” he added.

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Become a Founding Member

At Sea Song, things are moving along to start our community. If you’re visiting this blog, you may be interested in perusing the Sea Song at Gulfside website for more information.

At Sea Song, your founding membership includes an array of conveniences, so you’ll be free to spend your days as you please, whether it’s taking in sweeping Gulf views from the comfort of your lanai, joining your neighbors for activities at the clubhouse or exploring one of many nearby entertainment destinations.

You’ll also rest assured knowing that you can continue to call Gulfside home, no matter what the future may hold. As a continuing care retirement community, Sea Song at Gulfside will offer a full spectrum of residential options and health care services, supporting the active lifestyle you enjoy today while providing a plan for tomorrow.

Your one-time entrance fee will ensure lifetime residency at Sea Song as well as access to higher levels of care should you ever need them. Your monthly membership fee will cover the services you’ll enjoy, affording you a lifestyle of independence unburdened by the worries of home maintenance.

If you’d like more information about becoming a founding member, please contact us.

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The Mississippi Conference and Sea Song

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward This week, we are delighted to bring you a piece written by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Conference and United Methodist Church.

“Sea Song” is a beautifully lyrical name, capturing a lovely vision of healing and hospitality and home. Sea Song emerges as a vision for the future from the tradition of hospitality and renewal extending for over a century on the historical Gulfside property in Waveland.

Out of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina new life arises. The wonderful homes of Sea Song will be enriching places for residents and guests.

Sea Song embodies continuities and discontinuities, carrying forward the heritage of hospitality while creating a remarkably new future.

The Mississippi Conference embraces with all United Methodist people the mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ. In Mississippi, we seek to “Rise and Shine,” growing and going and giving, overflowing with the love of God in the world. Sea Song exemplifies shining ministry, expanding vision and extravagant generosity.

– Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Mississippi Conference, The United Methodist Church

Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section, we love to hear from you.

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News Coverage from the Interfaith Service

For those of you who were not able to join us, WLOX put together a nice broadcast piece about the service. Please watch this video to see some highlights from the Interfaith Service, and please share your stories with us if you were able to attend.

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Looking Back on the Interfaith Service

On Friday, September 17th, many of you joined us for our Interfaith Service. We were fortunate to be treated to a spiritual performance by the Rust College Choir, who greeted us with song and messages of hope. For those of you who were not able to join us, we’d like to share some of the quotes from the speakers.

Mollie Stewart, President of Gulfside Association, spoke of togetherness in times of need. “All of us down the Coast are hurting,” said Mollie, “and when family hurts, we gather together.” The Interfaith Service on the grounds the Gulfside Association brought messages of togetherness, and of healing for the Gulf Coast area.

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo spoke of the destruction that the grounds have seen during Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. But the legacy of Gulfside has held fast through troubled times. “The rich history that was here, just the buildings are gone,” said Longo. “The history is still here. What happened, happened. And those great things continue to happen here at Gulfside Assembly.”

“We gather today to give thanks to God for the continued restoration of our community,” said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the United Methodist Church, “And most especially for this place. We give thanks for God’s providence, God’s love and God’s strength. In this way we know we are not alone. And we look to God for strength and help as we move forward.”

Though only a tent served as a sanctuary for those in attendance, there are plans to build a Ministry Center on the grounds where future Sea Song at Gulfside residents and worshippers can gather and hear God’s message.

And although the grounds will be home to retirement villas, the Interfaith Service took place to bring the community together. “We’re here to praise God. To lift God up. And to honor what God has done for us,” said Mollie Stewart. “And we’re not talking about Katrina, the destruction. We’re talking about how blessed we are right now.”

If you were able to attend, please let us know in the comments section. We love to hear from you.

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More Information on the Interfaith Service

Just a reminder that Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Mississippi will be hosting an Interfaith Service for all on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. to honor and support BP oil victims in the region. We’d love for you to join us with friends, family and neighbors to attend this special event dedicated to those suffering from the April 2010 oil spill.

The service will be held at 950 South Beach Blvd. Waveland, MS. Directions may be found here.

We’ll keep you posted with updates and speakers, and look forward to seeing you on the17th.

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Interfaith Service at Gulfside

We are planning a very special interfaith service of prayer, praise and worship at the former site of Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Mississippi on Friday, September 17 at 10 a.m. As we continue to cope with the Gulf oil spill, we have learned that the needs of so many are not only financial but spiritual.

This latest setback is one in a long line of hardships for the area, and the wear shows on our friends and neighbors.

This service will bring a diverse community of believers together, including national and regional leadership from the United Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church. Together, they will be able to minister to those impacted by the oil spill as well as those still working to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Gulfside has endured several tragedies, yet it remains a refuge and sanctuary for those in need. These forces brought destruction to the buildings and the land, but the spirit of its people has remained strong.

We will update with more information on the interfaith service as it draws nearer. We hope to see you there for a day of worship at the former site of the Gulfside Assembly.

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The Sea Song Process

Sea Song at GulfsideThe first step in building the community of Gulfside in Waveland, Mississippi is Sea Song at Gulfside, a unique retirement community for active adults age 55 and older. This new addition to Gulfside will extend the historic legacy to serve people both young and old. The first residents of Sea Song will lay the foundation for the renewal of Gulfside, adding a new chapter to its ongoing legacy of perseverance and triumph.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Gulfside’s property served as a disaster relief center. Now, plans are in place to begin construction of the retirement community.

The Sea Song at Gulfside construction effort is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2011, once 18 villas have been sold. The retirement community will serve as the driving economic force to support the not-for-profit project at Gulfside.

If you know someone who might be interested in Sea Song at Gulfside, please encourage them to call our information center at 228-467-4200 or visit the Sea Song at Gulfside website to learn how they can help to ensure that Gulfside is preserved for generations to come. To receive more information about Sea Song at Gulfside, or if you’d like updates on the project, please fill out the Sea Song at Gulfside Contact Form.

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The Vision of Sea Song

The Vision of Sea SongThe history of Gulfside is filled with a rich heritage of triumph and perseverance. Now, in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, the community of Gulfside in Waveland, Mississippi is being rebuilt for future generations.

Gulfside has been associated with the United Methodist Church for nearly a century. Founded by Bishop Robert E. Jones, the first Black Methodist bishop, it was a safe haven where Blacks could meet, study and worship during the Civil Rights era.

Throughout the course of its history, Gulfside has endured several tragedies: first a fire in the 1940s, then Hurricane Camille in 1969 and most recently, Hurricane Katrina. These forces brought destruction to the buildings and the land, but the spirit of its people has remained strong.
Today, under the visionary leadership of President and CEO Mollie M. Stewart, Gulfside Association and its Board of Trustees are directing the rebuilding of Gulfside with a commitment to serving God’s purpose, and paving the way for new ministries and communities.

Gulfside will feature four key components: an assisted living community, lodging for visitors who come to Gulfside for the recreational, educational, and spiritual activities offered; Sea Song at Gulfside, a collection of Caribbean-inspired villas for active retirement living; and the Ministry Center at Gulfside.

A multi-million dollar capital campaign is also currently underway to bring to life the 60,000-square-foot Ministry Center at Gulfside. The Ministry Center will be the heart and soul of the renewed Gulfside, where the spiritual leaders of today and tomorrow will come together to rededicate themselves to their mission and serve those in need through national outreach programs.

The first step in rebuilding Gulfside is Sea Song at Gulfside, a unique retirement community for active adults age 55 and older. This new addition to the Gulfside legacy will extend its historic ministries to serve all people – young and old. The first residents of Sea Song will lay the cornerstone for the renewal of Gulfside, adding a new chapter to its ongoing story of perseverance and triumph.

Both Sea Song at Gulfside and the Ministry Center at Gulfside represent a new chapter in the Gulfside legacy.

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