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 trails 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 server 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 common place 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. The must have 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.