In the fall of the year 1894, five men sat in the home of Robert (Bob) Johnson (Grandfather of Deacons Thomas Johnson, William Smith, Sister Mary Drake, Mother Goldie Fletcher, and Mother Mollie Lockhart), and talked about establishing Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church. They referred to it at first as “Pleasant Grove”. The other four men were M. Slay, P. Douglass, T. Barksdale and A. Davis. These men were designated trustees of the church to be formed and later served as deacons. They were able to purchase two acres of land from William and Maria Pettus for the sum of thirty dollars. The Church, a small frame structure, was built with the Elder Hime Brown serving as pastor. Succeeding pastors included Caesar Scruggs, Woodson Miller and Joe Scruggs. Many of the details of the trials and hardships of the early forerunners of the church are missing, but their vision, fortitude and faith represented a tremendous contribution to what Pine Grove stands for today.
In 1922, George W. Owens was elected as pastor and served faithfully until 1926. During this time, the original small frame church was replaced with a larger, although still wooden frame structure. Thomas Hines was elected pastor in 1926 and kept good oversight of the flock until 1935. Times were hard and lean but the spirit of the church never faltered, thanks to the grace of God.
In 1935, a native son of Pine Grove, Moses P. Burks, was elected pastor and served humbly and steadfastly for 14 years until 1949. During his administration, the church’s frame structure was changed to a concrete block structure in 1944. Also, Deacon James E. Lockhart was ordained in 1936 and Deacons Johnny S. Washington, Thomas Johnson, Garner Lockhart and William Smith were ordained in 1937. Deacons Willie Mitchell, Bennie Davis, Johnny W. Washington, Frank Slay, Eugene Fletcher, Leroy Fletcher, Louis Hanserd, Lawrence Moody, Clint (Dock”) Davis, Robert Johnson, Jr., Alex Davis and Ollie Noble also served diligently at Pine Grove through both calm and turbulent-times. The church had to struggle, along with everyone else, during the depression but a way was made to continue. Very little money was in circulation at this time, and any improvement of the physical structure of the church represented a great effort.
According to recollection by Sister Zola Chase, four structures have served as sanctuaries for our church; two wooden structures, a block building before renovation and expansion into our present memorial Fellowship Hall and the present sanctuary that we now occupy. There was also a period in which church services were held at the Nelson School when construction was in process. Transportation was first by foot, later by mule and wagon and still later by T-model Fords in the 1920’s and 30’s. Cars started to become fairly commonplace after World War II in the late 1940’s. On a typical Sunday, the offering would consist of men paying 25 cents, women 15 cents and children 10 cents. The Sunday School would collect nickels and pennies.
One of the most stimulating and dedicated deacons was Deacon Eugene Fletcher. After his conversion in approximately 1919 he became a diligent worker and was soon ordained as a deacon. For almost 30 years, he served as Sunday School Superintendent and Chairman of the Deacon Board. His strong leadership skills and willing spirit helped steer Pine Grove through hardships and depressed economy.
One significant effort to raise finance was sponsored by Deacon William Smith during this period. A week’s meeting was set forth with a goal of $500.00 (no small amount at this time) to purchase heaters for the church. Few believed the goal would be reached. Participating ministers included the Reverends Will Taylor, Jenkins Blackburn, Albert Sullivan, Binford Conley, Sr., Earl Scruggs, Sr., Richard Moore and Elder Word. The meeting climaxed on Sunday morning with Reverend O. Tucker, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Huntsville delivering the sermon. When the preaching, praying and shouting were over, the collection stood at $500.00. The goal was reached, but more significant was the demonstration that the church could indeed walk by faith instead of sight. This had a direct bearing on the things we are able to accomplish today.
In 1949, Alfred Booker was elected as pastor and served with undaunted dedication until his death in 1959. Deacons James W. Brown, Lester Hardin, and Horace Garner were ordained in 1951 and Deacon Victor Fletcher in 1957. Deacon James E. Lockhart was appointed Chairman of the Deacon Board in 1949, with Deacon Johnny S. Washington serving as church clerk.
Times were still lean, but still by the grace of God, the church progressed. In the beginning of this pastoral administration (1949), the church listed 87 persons as members and operated on a budget of a little more than 400.00 a year. The meeting day was still one Sunday a month; the first Sunday. This probably had been going on for the previous 55 years.
At the end of this period, in 1959, a young man at the age of 17, had heeded his call to the gospel ministry. Though Pine Grove did not realize it at this time, this young man was to assume pastoral care of the congregation for a short time. Through the spiritual insight of some and the prayers of others, Rev. Julius R. Scruggs, from the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Toney, Alabama, was offered and elected as pastor.
Being young has its disadvantages in some instances, but with God, all things are possible. Reverend Scruggs suggested the meeting days to be two Sundays a month and then each Sunday a month. This was accepted by the congregation and instituted. An upsurge in general interest and activities of the church began to take place, as well as the addition of many new members to the church. At the end of this period, the church roll listed 176 members and operated on an annual budget of about $4,500.00.
A unique faith was shown by the congregation in accepting such a young man as pastor and a unique demonstration of worthiness was shown by Reverend Scruggs to all who WERE witnesses. In 1965, Reverend Scruggs heeded a call to the Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is at present diligently carrying on the works of the Master at the First Missionary Baptist Church, Huntsville, Alabama, having continued to grow in grace as well as in academic pursuits.
In the spring of 1965, Dave M. McGlathery was elected as pastor, coming from the Saint Bartley Primitive Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. The faith that was shown in the previous young pastor was to play a role in the acceptance of Reverend McGlathery. Though not quite so young (at 29) in some sense, he was still very young in the ministry of the Lord with no previous experience as pastor. But with God, all things are possible. He had grown in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus and he humbly submitted himself to the works of the Christian Ministry. Deacon Willie L. Wallace came to Pine Grove in 1967 after serving his home church in Chicago, Illinois. In 1970, Wayford Davis, Alfred Hardin and Jeff Hardin, Jr. were ordained as deacons. Richard L. Hamlet was ordained in 1972 and in 1974 ordained as a minister. In 1978 Ronald Fletcher was ordained as a deacon. Deacon Richard Surles moved back to the community in 1977 and joined Pine Grove after serving as deacon in his previous church home. In 1980, Deacon Clarence Davis came to Pine Grove from Phillips Tabernacle Primitive Baptist Church. Other deacons were ordained under Pastor McGlathery such as Virgil Gilliam, 1984, Elijah Bailey, 1988, Tyler Davis, 1988, and Steven Drake, 1993. Sister Ela Washington was appointed Church Clerk in 1987 and Sister Eloise Chase was appointed Assistant Church Clerk in 1993. Sister Earla Lockhart was appointed Church Treasurer in 1991 after serving as Co-Clerk from 1987. Deacon Jeff Hardin, Jr. was appointed Chairman of the Deacon Board in 1983 after Deacon James E. Lockhart voluntarily gave up the position. Deacon Ronald Fletcher was also appointed Vice-Chairman of the Deacon Board in 1993. In 1997, Jasper Burgess, James Friday, Walter Griffin and Miles Snead were ordained as deacons. In 2014 Deacon Randell Richmond was elected to the Board of Deacons. In 2015 Deacon Joe Baker came to Pine Grove from New Zion Church in Harvest and was elected to the Board of Deacons. In 2015 Deacon Byron Hammons came to us from David’s Temple Missionary Baptist Church and was elected to the Board of Deacons.
Ministers called to preach at Pine Grove during the tenure of Pastor McGlathery include Robert Hamlet (1971) Richard L. Hamlet (1973), James Dancy (1978), Anthony Stewart (1978), Robert Surles (1987), Willie James Davis (1985), Quintin Jasper (1986), Earla Lockhart (1992), Leroy Harris (1993), Mary Howard (2000), Winifred Davis (2001), Marcia Smith (2003), Gloria Brown (2005), Fred Richardson (2005), and Betty Robinson (2005). Reverend T.P. Surles returned home in 1976. Ministers coming to us from other congregations include Essie Allen (David’s Temple, 1981), Robert Brown, Jr. (New Orleans, Louisiana, 1989), Edward Seay (Detroit, Michigan, 1991), and Charlie Johnson (Chicago, Illinois), Reverend Christopher Jermaine Turner (Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Toney 2008). Eugene Folks, Jr., (New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Wiesbaden, German 2009.) Reverend Turner was elected by the board to serve as Assistant Pastor in 2009. In February, 2010, Reverend Turner was elected to serve as the 11th pastor. Since Pastor Turner was elected pastor the following ministers have become a part of the church family: Emanuel J. Bumpass (2012) Ora Pam, Remnant Worship Center (2012), Larry Humphrey Remnant Worship Center (2012), Marion Jones, Elizabeth Baptist Church (2012), Sandra Richardson, Saint Bartley P.B. Church (2012), Jacqueline Jordan, New Jerusalem M.B. Church, (2013), Darrell Jordan, The Hand of God/The Mountain (2013). Geraldine Blair, The Fellowship of Faith Church (2014).
The church is continuing to grow spiritually and physically. The church roll lists more than 400 persons. There are six choirs, two usher boards, a very active and strong Brotherhood and many other Auxiliaries of the church. Almost 18 acres of land have been added to the church’s possession since 1965 making a total of 20 acres. A memorial cemetery has been established with family plots available to church members and their families with some general burial areas provided for others.
In 1985, the present sanctuary was erected with God’s guidance and blessing. In 1991, the church became an incorporated body. The old sanctuary was completely remodeled and dedicated as the Memorial Fellowship Hall in honor of those who labored here before us. May the Lord, through His grace, accept the fruit of our hand, being fruit of the Spirit received from Him initially. May He bless and consecrate our works as He did in the days of old. May we by His grace be able to accept the supreme challenge of being the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the city that is set on a hill that cannot be hid; for truly He has brought us “Out of the Darkness into His Marvelous Light.”
(The information contained here is a composite of verbal and written information form various sources and