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Pine Grove Church honors rich heritage, 100 years comment (0)

December 18, 2008

By Greg Heyman

Five generations of Nita Elmore’s family have worshipped at Pine Grove Baptist Church, Ethelsville, in Pickens Baptist Association. In fact, her family’s impact on the church can be traced to its founding.

Elmore’s participation in the church’s 100th anniversary celebration Oct. 12 underscored Pine Grove’s Christian heritage and teaching that has influenced one generation after another for an entire century.

Rodger Harcrow saw Pine Grove’s influence in his life from early on.

He grew up in Pine Grove Baptist, where he made a profession of faith when he was 16. Now 59, Harcrow has been a member of the church for 43 years, with the exception of a brief period that he lived elsewhere.

A deacon at the church since he was 21, Harcrow also serves as Pine Grove’s pianist.

In explaining the demographics around the church, Gene Dawkins, Pine Grove’s pastor, said, “It’s a very rural community with a sparse population. We’re so far out in the country that they pipe sunshine in to us.”

Nonetheless, the faithful of the church are committed to helping it succeed, he added.

“It’s a beautiful church. The people have a beautiful spirit and there are a lot of hardworking people there.”

And the opportunity to help the congregation celebrate a century of service drew an estimated 125 people, more than double the number normally attending worship services each week.

“For our little church, (the number attending the anniversary celebration) was quite a few,” Dawkins said.

During the celebration, three former pastors were recognized: Dewey Flora, who served from 1960 to 1962; W.S. Phillips, who served 1972 to 1973; and Charles Young, who served from 1992 to 2000.

The service also included singing by Capstone Quartet from Gordo and a plaque presentation by the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission.

In his sermon that day, Dawkins encouraged members not to lose focus on the foundation laid by those who began Pine Grove Baptist.

“Those people could have put anything in that community, but they wanted a place to worship God and they started a church,” Dawkins said.

A history indicates that the church was founded Oct. 16, 1908, by W.H. Copeland, W.H. Hataway, Ida Hataway, Lula Hataway, J.A. Seymer and Laura Gore. (Nita Elmore is Copeland’s granddaughter.) Services at the new church were conducted by Elder E.P. Smith, who was pastor of Carrollton Baptist Church in Pickens Association at the time.

There is no official record of a church building prior to 1922. Church leaders believe the congregation may have met in a building in the community.

In 1922, however, a church was built. Eleven years later, it burned when embers from a fire at the Methodist church across the street ignited Pine Grove Baptist. The church’s present building was constructed soon after the blaze.

In 1939, a piano was purchased for $175. Two Sunday School rooms were added in the early 1950s. Indoor plumbing became a reality at the church in 1960.

A metal building was constructed on the west side of the church in 1983 to provide six Sunday School rooms, a fellowship hall and kitchen.

Dawkins noted that the church has been small in size throughout its history but not in its spirit and endurance.
Church history indicates that average attendance in Sunday School in 1959 was 41; membership was greatest from 1908 to 1916, when there were 65 people on roll.

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