HISTORY OF THE PINE GROVE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
The founders and organizers of the Pine Grove Baptist Church were people born in the days of slavery. These slaves were born in Sumter County, other counties in Alabama, as well as other states. Those who were not born in this area came to Sumter County in the years of 1857-1860. They landed in Gainesville, Alabama by boat and were brought to Livingston by the Jenkins and Jackson family who were slave owners. Because they experienced life’s hardship, they knew the difficulties of life. Therefore, they prayed that some day they might be free to worship as they please. Their wish became reality.
After they had been freed from slavery during the Civil War, they congregated themselves, and formed the Piney Grove meeting house. They met together, song, prayed, and thanked God for their freedom. There was also a meeting house in the swamp, as it was called at the time, known as the Cook’s meeting house where the Holders and Speights' used to live. The people across the river would attend meetings at the meeting house in the swamp or they would come to Piney Grove Church by way of the Cooks Landing.
In the year of 1878, the church was fully organized into an operative church, and the late Rev. George Young was called to pastor the newly organized church. The present structure was built during his pastorage. This was the second church building. It was built in the beginning of the 20th century, somewhere between 1900 and 1910. Rev. Young served as pastor of this church for 50 years. He along with Rev. S.W. Williamson wrote the constitution for the Mt. Herman District Association.
As we continue to scour through our history, we acknowledge the past deacons of this great establishment. These were Stafford Holder, Anderson Busby, Amos Croom, Spencer Hooks, George Croom, Walter Henry Childs, James Patrick, John Lee, Frank Childs, Felix Hines, Sr., Jody Thompson, Frederick Hines, Sr., Jesse Hines, Richard Jones, Sr., Frank Jones, Willie Ivory, Sr., Willie Jones, Tommy Carter, Sr., and Mitchell Carter, Sr. Our current deacons are Jimmy Carter and Horace Drish.
After the resignation of the late Rev. Young in January1929, there were several pastors who also brought revitalization to the church under their leadership. These are Rev. G.D. Findley, Rev. A.L. Fountain, Rev. R.H. Pack, Rev. L.S. Partridge, Rev. Vaughn, Rev. Hollis, Rev. Ownes, Rev. C.M. Roberts, Rev. L.L. Lee, Rev. O.B. Wilson, Rev. S.N. Norwood, Rev. Tyrone Thomas, Rev. Roy C. Allen, and our current pastor Rev. Kentray Sims.
There was a church sexton who is worthy to be mentioned that came under the leadership of Rev. Lee. He took care of the church in this period as well as throughout the pastorship of Rev. Norwood and Rev. Thomas until his death in 1989. This person was David Green in which most people knew him as “Bro”. Bro was faithful in his duties for many years and was well respected among the congregation. Many of us didn’t recognize the work as a sexton so we looked at him as the Bellringer of the church. He was the one who would ring the big bell when it was time for service. He is truly a person that should be noted in our history.
Rev. Kentray Sims became the pastor of Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church in 2008. With him, we oftentimes reflect on how our forefathers had the church at heart. They may be gone but their legacies and hard work still lives on. Our pastor has taken what they have left us with and through innovative ways and God’s guidance has established a few landmarks. New ministries have been found and organized. The church building has undergone renovation. A second church van has been purchased. He has established a mission and vision statement as well as a formal congregational welcome. We also run quarterly newsletters. During his present time, he has become a mentor/Father in the Ministry to four ministers that were birth under his wing between 2010-2012. They are Min. Eric Hines, Min. R.J. Bias, Min. Lorissa Holder, and Rev. Mitchel Carter, Sr. In 2013, Rev. Carter became pastor of another church yet he still remains as a minister at Pine Grove.
The story doesn’t ends here. During the 1st Sunday in August (2014), Rev. Sims stood before the congregation with a deed in hand showing the ownership of additional property to be utilized in the upbuilding of the church. Since then, that property has been cleared to begin project developments. He continues to follow the vision that God has given him to aide us in our growth as the “Center of Life”.