Wells Oral History Project:
"Everyone Always Very Welcome"

*No copies and/or reproductions without permission of Wells Church

In the fall of 2014, Wells Church was awarded a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council to accumulate and contribute to The Mississippi Oral History Program.  The Church was encouraged to share its story and that of its members because of its unique history as a formidable force for change and acceptance in the Jackson community during the civil rights era and beyond.  Specifically, this project has attempted to document the exceptional tenure of Keith Tonkel, pastor of many years, and long-standing members like “Aunt” Bettye Quinn.  Spearheaded by Wells member Sarah Campbell and Wells Music and Creative Arts Director James Martin, along with dedicated interviewers and videographers, we have attempted to archive some of the remembrances of a church that has become known for its diversity, dedication to its community, advocation for social justice and commitment to warmly welcoming everyone into this branch of the body of Christ.  

These interviews were conducted over the course of about two years as part of “Everyone Always Very Welcome,” an oral history project at Wells Memorial United Methodist Church. Wells received generous support for the project from the Mississippi Humanities Council, which is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. All interviews are archived at the Center for the Study of Oral History and Culture at the University of Southern Mississippi. 

As interviews are completed, they will be archived and links placed on this page. *No copies and/or reproductions without permission of Wells Church

Access the audio recordings on YouTube here.

Transcripts of the interviews are archived at the links below:

     Keith Tonkel 

     Bettye Quinn

     John and Margrit Garner

     Rich and Jackie McGinnis

     Bruce Reynolds