The existence of Seashore Methodist Assembly was cemented in 1876 with the Miracle of the Fish.|
The campground, as such centers were called, had opened four years earlier when Louisianans combined a seaside playground with religious gatherings.
In 1876, 5,000 people showed up unexpectedly for the camp meet and leaders worried about food. That's when it happened. As recorded in meeting minutes: "Hundreds of thousands of fish filled the waters, so gentle and tame as to be caught with the naked hand." The fish fed the masses.
Much of Seashore today is used as an affordable retreat-conference center for local and regional educational, civic and religious gatherings. Included are youth Bible retreats, Elderhostel programs on Coast history and a Lions Club Sea & Sun Camp for disabled people.
The Beach Boulevard complex in central Biloxi also houses Leggett Memorial United Methodist Church, barely a shell since Katrina. The wooden Van Hook Hall, opened in 1911, still stands; two small motels, a bunk area for kids and Casey Center, where classes are held, are in various stages of damage. The cafeteria is feeding relief workers.
"The board of directors hasn't met yet, but I presume it will be rebuilt in some fashion or another," said the Rev. Jerry Beam, superintendent of the six-county Seashore District. "Seashore is important to this community."