The historic Benwalt Hotel, built in 1928, is now the home of Mississippi Combine, a non-profit Christian-based ministry.
The historic Benwalt Hotel, built in 1928, is now the home of Mississippi Combine, a non-profit Christian-based ministry.
The historic Benwalt Hotel on Byrd Avenue is now the official home of Mississippi Combine, a non-profit Christian-based ministry which focuses on seven major areas of influence in society.

The Rev. Chris Vowell, a member of Mississippi Combine’s Board of Directors, said the organization purchased the building at the end of the year from Neshoba County native Amina Carter of California.

Mississippi Combine focuses on such things as family, church, government, education, media, business and arts and entertainment, Vowell said.

“We are helping some young couples with marriage and family counseling at the Combine office and I am also helping with some of the jail ministry at Neshoba County with some of the Gideons in our area on Saturday mornings,” Vowell said.

One project the Board of Directors hopes to get underway soon is the parking lot behind the old hotel.

“It is part of the property and we hope to get some slag and even do a little landscaping to dress it up and add to the parking downtown,” Vowell said.

On Tuesday nights, Mississippi Combine hosts a “house of prayer” beginning at 7 p.m. with four or five different churches participating.

“On Thursday nights, we have the healing rooms where we pray for the sick,” Vowell said. “We have teams who come in.”

Vowell said the goal was to see the community “come together more across church and denominational lines as well as across racial lines. We are trying to step in there and meet the needs of the community.”

Among the long term plans, Vowell said an after school coffee shop and cafe was being discussed since the old hotel is located need Philadelphia High School.

“We might get into some mentoring type of program,” he said.

Mississippi Combine is considering applying for an EPA Brownfield cleanup grant in the fall. Cities, counties and non-profits are eligible to receive as much as $200,000 in Brownfield cleanup grants with a 20-percent match required for non-profits.

The grant could be used to help with a cleanup cost for abating the asbestos in the old hotel which was initially estimated to cost around $20,000 to $30,000.

The Benwalt Hotel was constructed in 1928 and remained operational as a hotel into the late 1970s. The last major project done on the building was removing the tin dome from the roof of the historic building in the spring of 2010.

The Combine has an office building right next door.

Other members of the Board of Directors of Mississippi Combine are Ronnie Asbill, treasurer, David Vowell, Bob Wilburn, Betty Love, Stacey Vowell and Roger Jacobson.