150 year-old church still going strong

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 30, 2015


The Pine Grove Baptist Church in Picayune celebrate its 150th anniversary on Nov. 1.

A devout member of the church since 1938, Beverly Stockstill Creel, provided a broad history of the church. She spoke fondly of her memories as a child in the church community.

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“The hub of the community was Pine Grove Church and Industrial High School and then there was a little country store. It was a family community. There were a lot of Seals, Stewarts, Stuarts and Stockstills along with other families, and they were all pretty much kin to each other. Your activities centered around those two—your church and your school,” Creel said.

The church has been a pillar of the community since it was organized in 1865. In 1866 the church was accepted as a member of the Hobolochitto Baptist Association. The Elder W.H. Varnado was the first Baptist preacher to settle in the area and he is known for having a hand in the organization of the church.

Pine Grove had a number of name changes over the years. In 1887 it was called Pine Grove Methodist Church. In 1896 the church was known as Pine Grove Methodist Episcopalian Church South, Creel said.

The church has held a number addresses including: Carriere, Gainsville, Nicholson, Cybur and Picayune. The church currently stands at 34 Pine Grove Rd. The building grew with the increase in the congregation’s population and over time. The population was in the 200s in the 1940s and today there are 901 congregants.

Creel mentioned that before 1957 when the present building was built, the congregation did not have a baptismal pod so they held baptisms at places such as Lotts Creek, Boley Creek, Old Burnt Bridge and the Pearl River.

In 1966, a new educational building was added to the church.

One big change in the church service that Creel mentioned was how the music has become more contemporary.

“Back when I went to church you only had a piano or an organ. Now they have guitars and they have drums,” Creel said.

She also mentioned how she used to sing out of songbooks and now they have a drop-down screen that the congregation reads from.

Today, the Pine Grove Baptist Church is led by Pastor Cody Warren and remains a staple of the community.