There's a lot to celebrate in a story as rich and remarkable as that of Ousley United Methodist Church. In a year-long observance of its 160th anniversary, the congregation has chosen to honor the contributions of a dedicated church historian, Mrs. Margaret Williams Curtis, and her late husband, Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Curtis.
A new display highlights the couple's contributions within and beyond the local church, including their ministry with Africa University. Rev. and Mrs. Curtis served for 16 years as United Methodist missionaries in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). On their return to the United States in 1976, Rev. Curtis became the director of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission-Southeastern Jurisdiction (UMVIM-SEJ). He helped to organize and send many U.S. work teams to build alongside Zimbabwean United Methodists and prepare campus facilities for the launch and growth of Africa University.
In 1995, the UMVIM-SEJ organization established an endowed scholarship fund at Africa University in honor of Rev. and Mrs. Curtis. Recently, a United Methodist Women's circle at the church was renamed the Margaret Curtis circle.
Rev. and Mrs. Curtis joined Ousley UMC in 1969. The congregation, located in the North Georgia Conference, is a vibrant, predominantly African-American fellowship. It brings together people from across North America as well as from Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Though retired from full-time ministry at the time, Rev. Curtis was the congregation's Minister of Pastoral Care when he died in 2004. In 2005, the church named its Christian Education Center in his memory.
Mrs. Curtis began her work as the church's historian in 2008 and served in the role for eight years.
"While Mrs. Curtis was church historian, she kept meticulous records of the church's history and took hundreds of photographs that she would post on the walls in the history room," said Mrs. Rutheen Majette-Nejad, whose term as church historian begins in January.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, the congregation is recognizing Mrs. Curtis' leadership and service. The Ousley UMC history room now features a special wall dedicated to both Rev. and Mrs. Curtis.
"I've never seen any two people as giving as the Curtises," said Mrs. Majette-Nejad. "Anything that they could do for someone in the church, they did it. Mrs. Curtis loves the United Methodist Women and Ousley UMC with her whole being. It is imperative to recognize the Curtises, especially Mrs. Curtis, in this way."
Elaine Jenkins, director of planned giving, Africa University Development Office
A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.