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The old tradition of pounding
rev greg and sheila
Rev. Greg Johnson and his wife Sheila were recently welcomed to the Turkey Branch United Methodist Church.

Have you ever heard of a "pounding"? Perhaps taking a mallet to some tough cut of beef comes to mind. Some may think of "pounding" something into someone as in hitting with their fists.

This is not at all what the term means in this column today. A "pounding" is the gift of groceries and necessary everyday items for a household.

It has been a long-time custom to welcome the new pastor to churches, especially in the South, with a "pounding." Everyone brings items that will not perish to stock the pantry of the new preacher and family. Essentially this is what some refer to as a pantry shower.

The name "pounding" likely came from staple items which were sold by the pound. Examples are sugar, flour, cornmeal, lard, coffee, dried beans, etc. Even nails are sold by the pound.

In days gone by when churches had parsonages, the members would gather and thoroughly clean the house inside and out and spruce up the yard. They would have a "pounding," stocking the shelves in the pantry with items they had canned from their garden or purchased at the store. Anything from canned goods, soap, salt, pepper, potatoes or onions to a jar of cookies might find its way into the pastor’s kitchen. Nowadays paper goods and cleaning items are included.

According to my aunt Myrtie Exley, who is in her 90s, the Methodists seem to have held on to the tradition of "pounding" longer than other denominations.

In rural Effingham County, just off Old Dixie Highway, near Springfield, Turkey Branch United Methodist Church still holds on to this tradition.

The church’s new pastor, Rev. Greg Johnson and his wife Sheila from Pembroke, were welcomed with a church dinner on Sunday after services and surprised with a "pounding." They received lots of things, including food, paper goods, a church cookbook and even a Christmas ornament from the church.

What a wonderful tradition extending a warm welcome to Rev. and Mrs. Greg Johnson.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: