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History

Piney Grove Baptist Church has been a pillar in the community for one hundred and fifty four years. Piney Grove Baptist Church has helped lead many to become Disciples of Christ. The church has been through many trials and tribulations during its existence, but God’s Grace and Mercy has kept Piney Grove Baptist Church. From the Log Cabin Church to the edifice of today, Piney Grove Baptist Church has stood the test of time and is the second oldest black church in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The following ministers have served as pastors:

Rev. John Jackson

Rev. Samuel Jones

Rev. John W. Kirby

Dr. Willis Brown

Rev. Charles H. Moton

Rev. W.P. Curl

Rev. A.E. Owens

Dr. W.J. Lucas

Dr. J.A. Brinkley

Rev. Benjamin Roberson

Rev. R.S. Steele

Rev. Howard Grier

Rev. Charles A. Vinson

Dr. Todd C. Davidson

Rev. D.L. Williams

THE ERECTION AND GROWTH OF PINEY GROVE COMMUNITY IN THE LOG CABIN

Around 1870, a group of settlers came to the community. Finding the soil fertile and place thickly wooded, each selected his home and began to build up the community. Charles Jukes saw the necessity for a church and discussed the matter with Sister Sawyer. In the fall of 1870, the church was built. An acre of ground was purchased, and a log cabin was built. This building was daubed with clay, covered with slabs and had a bush shelter at the door. Its value was approximately $35.00.

The following persons were members: Wiley Grandy, Telly Walke, Stanhope Riddick, Bill Booze, Nancy Booze, Winnie Savage, Harvey Frank, Joicy Griffin, Lewis Griffin, Charles Jukes, Joiney Sparrow, John Rogers, Wilson Parson, Malinda Jukes, Abram Savage, Isiah Savage, Lucy Savage, Delia Smith, Elick Ferebee, Olive Brown, Susan Ferebee, Stephen Smith, Alcora Savage, Hannah Riddick, Lucy Rogers, Jane Ferebee, Jeffrey Williams and Jane Williams.

Purchased for $800
Rev. Dr. Willis Brown Pastor

EARLY OFFICERS

The officers were as follows:

Deacons:

Benjamin Kittrell, Jim Williams, Charles Jukes

Secretary:

Wilson Parson

Sextons:

Brother Lewis Griffin and Sister Joicy Griffin

The first burial was that of Charles Jukes. His body was surrounded with pine poles.

Sunday school was started in 1872. Soon afterward, the Church joined the Norfolk Union Baptist Association. The first delegate was Brother Wilson Parson. The ministers during this time were Rev. John Jackson and Rev. Samuel Jones.

PINEY GROVE’S GROWTH DURING THE SECOND STRUCTURE

As the population of the Piney Grove Community continues to grow, so did the church membership. Eventually, The Log Cabin Church in which they worshiped became inadequate to accommodate the members. The members decided to build a more adequate church. As there were no churches among the colored population from which to get a plan or design and the members were puzzled as to what kind they wanted.

The plan of the old church used as a schoolhouse, was that of Rev. Willis Brown; thus the two large pillars of columns in the center, the huge windows, etc. Rev. Simon Rogers and Brother Stanhope Riddick cut the sills with a ripsaw. The cost of the structure was about $800.

Purchased for $35.00—Later
Used as a School House
Rev. Jack Johnson—Pastor

The little house, which was at the rear of the building, was built as a council room for the pastor and deacons to meet and formulate plans for the church. Rev. Samuel Jones was pastor at the time of the erection of this building. The church was both the spiritual and social uplift of the community.

After Rev. Jones’ term as pastor, Rev. John W. Kirby, a graduate of Richmond Theological Seminary, a strong and fearless preacher, a champion of cooperation, was recommended by Rev. Willis Brown (then Chairman of the Pulpit Committee) to serve as pastor.

There was nothing added to the building structure during Rev. Kirby’s pastorage, but the congregation continued to grow. Rev. Kirby served for four years before he resigned. He recommended that the Church ordain Rev. Willis Brown and call him for pastor. This they did, hence, Rev. Willis Brown became the pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church.

Rev. Brown was confided in and respected as a good leader. The Church continued to grow and the membership at that time was approximately 250. Rev. Brown pastored successfully for 20 years. During this time, Piney Grove was considered one of the leading churches in the community.

In this second structure, several more deacons were chosen: William H. Harris, Boston Brown, Solomon Ferebee, Tom Brown, Severn Hunter, Simon Ferebee, William Franklin, Jersey Brown and Elijah Whitehurst.

MUSIC

The church choir was organized in 1887. Some of the first members were: Miss Martha Brown, organizer; Solomon Ferebee, Maria Brown, Daniel Riddick, William H. Harris, Boston Brown, J.S. Riddick, Jersey Brown and John T. Willis Brown. In 1888 it was decided in church meeting to have instrumental music in the church service. So the members voluntarily subscribed money for the purchase of an organ. Miss M.L. Brown was elected organist. The church paid her two dollars per month. Later there were more members added. They were: Olive Parson, Mary Susan Whitehurst, Victoria Parson and Johnson Ferebee. The requirements for joining the choir were a good report and the ability to sing any piece of music that was not familiar to the choir. Consequently, some were turned down but the choir was somewhat efficient in the reading of music.

SUNDAY SCHOOL

As the church membership grew, the Sunday School enlarged in proportion. The superintendent was Boston Brown. Three of the secretaries during Rev Willie Brown’s time were Miss C.B. Shaw, L.H. Riddick and Daniel Riddick. There were eight teachers and eight classes.

DISCIPLINE

Every member was to obey the rules and regulations of the church. To disobey led to expulsion. Drunkenness, dereliction of duty, promenading, and gross and immoral conduct led to expulsion. There were twelve meetings during the year and in almost every meeting some members would either be expelled, restored, excused, called or call extended. In those days, people wanted to stay in the church, so they would ask for forgiveness.

THE COMMUNITY’S GROWTH IN THE NEW CHURCH

Under the leadership and pastorate of Rev. Brown, the third church was built. As the church was growing in number, wisdom, and grace, it was decided that the church needed a better building in which to worship. The congregation wanted a church more conveniently arranged and more beautifully designed. At a church meeting the members decided to follow their leader in the reception of a new building to be placed across the road. The new structure was to have a baptism pool. The building was erected in 1901. Rev. Brown pastored Piney Grove until his death in September 1914.

A Pulpit Committee recommended that the Rev. James A. Brinkley was to be elected as pastor. The call was extended and not accepted. On May 15, 1915, the Pulpit Committee recommended the Rev. Charles H. Moton for pastor. He was unanimously elected. Rev. Moton was a man of rare ability, a product of Lincoln University and a good leader and preacher. The Church continued to successfully move on.

Rev. Moton offered his resignation in July 1916, which was accepted by the Church. A committee composed of Willis Sawyer, Clarence Cooper, George Parson and Daniel Riddick were appointed to work with the board in selecting another pastor. This committee recommended the Rev. W.P. Curl as pastor of the church. He was elected in December 1916.

Rev. W.P. Curl was a graduate of V.N.I.I., a schoolteacher and preacher. He was very conscientious, steady in purpose and worked hard to keep up the standards of the church. Under the pastorage of Rev. Curl, three deacons were chosen namely: Willis Brown, Danson Spellman and Willis Sawyer. Charles Riddick and George Parson were elected as trustees for the church. Rev. Curl died in September 1918.

On May 17, 1921 the church elected Rev. A.E. Owens as pastor of the church. Rev. Owens was a powerful preacher who had pastored at Piney Grove, Creeds. The Delco lighting system was installed. The parsonage for Rev. Owens was in the home of Emanuel Gould.

The next pastor was Rev. W.J. Lucas. Rev. Lucas was a graduate of Union University, Richmond, Virginia. Rev. J.A. Brinkley recommended him to the church. The church was repaired and a junior choir was organized. Mrs. Ola Riddick was organist for the junior choir. The church and Pastor worked well together.

In August 1928 Rev. W.J. Lucas resigned as pastor of the church to take a larger church on Eastern Shore, Virginia. As a preacher, Rev. Lucas’s messages were profound in content and eloquently delivered. His persuasive evangelistic emphasis led many to accept the Lord and be saved.

On September 11, 1928, a business meeting was held to elect a pastor. By motion, Rev. J.A. Brinkley was elected pastor of the church. The call of Dr. J.A. Brinkley was extended and accepted. On the third Sunday in October, 1928 he took charge as pastor of the church.

In August 1929 the church adopted the weekly envelope system for collecting finance. Also in 1929, the church had to struggle through a nation-wide depression. The pastor suggested that all workers be paid less money and he is to be paid $40 instead of $50. This cut continued for nine years. In 1929 the following brethren were chosen for deacons: George Whitehurst, Edward Hunter, Caleb A. Riddick, C.R. Lamb and Daniel Riddick.

Dr. Brinkley was the third Princess Anne County man to pastor this church and the second one of the community. The Rev. A.E. Owens was reared in Princess Anne County. Dr. Willis Brown spent all of his religious life in Piney Grove Church. Dr. Brinkley, when a boy, attended the Piney Grove Public School and Sunday School. He was converted in the Piney Grove Church and was under it’s influence. He attended Union University from which he graduated and for a number of years taught New Testament Greek.

Dr. Brinkley and his wife drove down from Richmond, Virginia twice a month to serve his church. Under his capable leadership, the church made great progress. In 1942, the Church was completely remodeled. A cement walk, brick steps and landscaping were done. Electric lights were installed, and a new Hammond organ was purchased. The baptism pool was fixed, and an electric pump installed to furnish water.

The Piney Grove Baptist Church had Sunday school every Sunday morning at 10:30 am except the Sunday on which the Sunday School Union convened. The pastor was present unless something unusual prevented him from doing so.

More and more interest was taken in the youth. Each Sunday morning, Dr. Brinkley, in the morning services held a “Children’s Hour”. The service consisted of a song and a Bible story questionnaire or other fatherly advice. Children were requested to sit in the middle aisle front seats. The pianist for the Children’s Hour was Mrs. Ruby Riddick.

Other deacons installed while Dr. Brinkley was pastor were Walter Russell, Millard F. Reid, Johnnie Lamb, Maurice Riddick and Artmore Riddick.

In January 1953, the church, under Dr. Brinkley launched an all out fund drive for a complete renovation of the Church. Dr. Brinkley did not live to see this vision come true. Dr. Brinkley died in February 1953. The church suffered a great loss.

In February 1954, the Piney Grove Baptist Church called Rev. Benjamin Roberson as pastor. He was installed during the third week in February. An attempt was made to have services every Sunday, but soon the idea was abandoned. During his pastorage, Choir No. II was organized, and the church membership grew rapidly. In August 1955 Rev. Roberson resigned for a larger field in Richmond, Virginia.

On November 1, 1956, the church elected the Rev. Roger S. Steele as pastor of the Piney Grove Baptist Church. Under his leadership the building was remodeled. Bathrooms, Sunday school rooms, and a Pastor’s study were added to the church. New lights were installed, a new heating system was installed, a kitchen was built in the old church, new floors were put in and a parking lot was erected.

The following brethren were chosen as deacons: Lloyd Williams, James F. Fentress, Robert Setzer, Walter Whitehurst and Isaac Reid. The following ministries were organized: Women’s Club, Floral Club, and the Deaconess Ministry. Services were held four Sundays a month. In January 1969, Rev. Steel resigned to become pastor of a church in North Carolina.

On October 26, 1971, the church elected Rev. Howard Grier as pastor. He resigned in 1973. The following brethrens were chosen as deacons: Isaac Smith, John T. Cherry and Thomas Brockett.

On May 13, 1976, the Rev. Charles A. Vinson was elected as pastor. During the early years of Pastor Vinson’s tenure, many improvements were made to the church’s edifice. The church was rewired in order to carry a heavier electrical load. The pastor’s study was redecorated with paneling, carpeting, curtains, and drapes. A coffee maker, a refrigerator, chair and air conditioner were added.

The Church experienced spiritual growth through his proclaiming of God’s Word. The membership, as well as the financial standing of the church greatly increased. A Junior Church, B.T.U., Nursing Corps, Hospitality Committee, New Members Committee, Sunbeam Choir, Education Committee, Floral Club, and Mass Choir were organized to the Glory of God.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s Sister Ruth Brockett was Church Clerk, Assistant Church Clerk was Sister Jeanette Cherry; Sister Joyce Lang became the Church Clerk, Assistant was Sister Audrey Cornick; Sister Cheyenne Brockett was the next Church Clerk with Joyce Lang as the Assistant Clerk.

Pastor Vinson advocated tithing for the members of the congregation and thus a tithing box was placed in the church. Under Pastor Vinson leadership in the third structure, several were ordained as deacons. They were as follows: Simon McPherson, James Kelly, Maurice Etheridge, Charles Winslow, Samuel Thompson, William Harris and Isaiah Hubbard. Also, the Trustee Board was increased to include Raymond Singleton, Joseph Rodgers, Walter Howard, Carter Gilmer, Louvenia Pride, Audrey R. W. Cornick and Arlene Ferebee.

The Lord blessed the Piney Grove Baptist Church family and nurtured many ministers through Pastor Vinson. They were Rev. Joseph M. Etheridge, Rev. John T. Cherry, Rev. Percy Jones, Rev. Raymond Singleton, Rev. Alfred Kirk, Rev. Anthony McCants, Rev. Calvin Reap, and Rev. Juan Turnes. Rev. Joseph M. Etheridge was ordained and on December 2, 1988, he was elected to serve as Pastor for the New Bethel Baptist Church in Boykins, Virginia.

PINEY GROVE: THE FOURTH STRUCTURE

Pastor Vinson shared his vision for a new church building with the congregation and on August 23, 1987, Piney Grove Baptist Church celebrated a Groundbreaking Ceremony. In 1989, through the guidance of Pastor Vinson and the dedication of the Piney Grove family, the Lord blessed and made the building of the New Piney Grove Baptist Church a reality. A dedication service was held on May 14, 1989.

More deacons were installed under Pastor Vinson’s pastoral ministry in the new structure. They were Clavon Snowden, Joseph McCree, Norris Danzey, Sidney Davis, James Roberson, Gary Dunnington, Charles Beckett, Kevin Singletary, James McNeill, Nathaniel Mitchell, Clifford Haynes, Ronnie Ferebee, David Franklin (Deacon-Elect), James Laster, Travis Harrison, Grayland McPherson, Little Joe Gibson, Harry Lashley, Taylor Schofield, and Tythus Kimbrough. More Trustees were installed. They were Chester Hunter, Willie Cuffee, Wendell McClure, Ronald Frink, Cassandra Keys, Bruce Thorpe, Howard Bonds, Janice Kimbrough, Lillian Urquhart, and James Holloway. Audrey Cornick was the Chairperson.

Many ministers accepted the calling of the Lord. They were Rev. Karen Hayes, Rev. Sidney Davis, Rev. Howard Langford, Rev. Charles Winslow, Rev. Norris Danzey, Rev. David Franklin, Rev. Ernest Burden, Rev. Janice B. Small, Rev. Margie Berry, Rev. Patricia Harrison, Rev. Rich Etta Weathersbee, Rev. Ronnie Ferebee, Rev. Gregory Fowlkes, Rev. Cheryl McNeill, Rev B.J. Vickers and Rev. Cassandra Keys, Ministers Anthony McCants, William Harris, and Sidney Davis were ordained under Pastor Vinson pastorage in the new church.

The following ministries were organized: Christian Men’s Fellowship, Christian Women’s Fellowship, Willing Workers Ministry, Children’s Church, CAV Angelic Choir, Voices Of Praise Choir and the Evangelism Ministry. The Youth Choir was scheduled to sing during the 11 am service on the first Sundays.

The Sunday School has had the following superintendents: Wilson N. Parson, Willis Brown, John R. Cooper, T. Brown, Daniel Riddick, Laura Cooper Adams, Artmore Riddick, Joseph Walton, Anthony Cooper, Isaac Reid, Brother DeSue, Joseph McCree and Gary Dunnington, The present superintendent is Rev. Roderick W. Sharpe.

Pastor Vinson acknowledged our Church Mothers: Mother Zera Mae Baucom, Mother Elsie Etheridge, Mother Nennis Hightower, Mother Virginia Munden, Mother Elmira Roberson, Mother Willie Mae Smith, Mother Viliethia Stieff.

“It is good to be in the house of the Lord, but it is better to be a child of God,” are the words so often spoken by Pastor Vinson as the congregation assembled for morning service. Pastor Vinson served as pastor for twenty-five years. The church accepted his letter of retirement on September 24, 2001, honoring his salary until December 31, 2001. Note: Sadly, Pastor Charles A. Vinson was called from labor to reward on December 27, 2004; the home-going service was held at Piney Grove Baptist Church.

The Deacon’s Ministry elected Deacon Harry L. Lashley as Chairman of the Deacon’s Ministry with Deacon Charles Beckett as Vice-Chairman until the January church meeting, where the church would elect the officers. At the January meeting, Deacon Lashley was elected by the Church to remain as Chairman and Deacon Kimbrough was elected as Vice-Chairman. Trustee Audrey R.W. Cornick was serving as Chairman of the Trustees’ Ministry with Trustee Willie Cuffee as Vice-Chairman.

The Church was looking for a Shepherd to lead them to reap Heaven’s reward. While Piney Grove was without a pastor, Deacon Harry L. Lashley working with the Administrative Ministry, Minister’s Ministry and the support of the congregation, kept the Church doing the work of the Lord. A Pulpit Committee was put in place in accordance to the By-laws of Piney Grove, to seek out candidates to present to the congregation for the election of a pastor. The Pulpit Committee consisted of Dr. Leon Bailey, Trustee Audrey Cornick, Trustee Howard Bonds, Deacon Little Joe Gibson, Deacon Tythus Kimbrough, Mother Willie-Mae Smith, Sister Elsie Etheridge, and Sister Blanche Robinson. Deacon Harry Lashley served as Chairperson and Church Clerk Phyliss McMillan served as the Recorder. The Pulpit Committee presented two candidates, Rev. Toney McNair and Rev. Anthony Williams, to the congregation. Neither of the two candidates received enough votes to be called as the next pastor.

After the vote, the church decided to increase the number of members on the Pulpit Committee. Dr. Leon Bailey, Trustee Howard Bonds and Mother Willie-Mae Smith resigned as members of the committee. The new Pulpit Committee consisted of Minister Cassandra Keys, Trustee Audrey Cornick, Trustee Ronald Frink, Deacon Little Joe Gibson, Deacon Tythus Kimbrough, Deaconess ZeraMae Baucom, Deaconess Sandra Haynes, Sister Elsie Etheridge (entered eternal rest while serving on the committee), Sister Sandra Parrish, Sister Blanche Robinson, Sister Jan Taylor, Brother Capus Peterson and Brother Terence Evans. Deacon Harry Lashley served as Chairperson and Church Clerk Phyliss McMillan served as the Recorder.

CHURCH GROWTH UNDER PASTOR DAVIDSON

On January 24, 2004, the Church called Rev. Todd C. Davidson as the Pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church. Under the leadership of Pastor Dr. Davidson, God blessed the church spiritually and financially, as well as in membership growth. Piney Grove opened its’ doors to the Girl Scout Ministry under the direction of Sister Nichole Adams and The Pantry of Blessings, under the leadership of Sister Sylvia Etheridge; making food available to those in need. The mortgage on our current structure was paid in full, and on December 31, 2005 we celebrated the burning of our mortgage. Many ministers were licensed and ordained. Minister Linda Isaac, Minister Angela Lambert, Minister Bette Clemmons Hampton and Minister ReNita Inmon. Rev. Cassandra Keys, Rev. Charles Winslow, & Rev. Ruby Fields. Dr. Davidson also ordained the following Deacons: Deacon Joseph McCree, Deacon Ron Taylor, Deacon Kevin Keys, Deacon Capus Peterson and Deacon Herbert Thrower (deceased-July 29, 2007), Deacon Marcus Williams, Deacon Andre Washington, Deacon James Taylor, Deacon Troy Thornton, Deacon Maurice Adams, and Deacon Bernard James. & Deacon James Laster.

In 2010 Dr. Davidson appointed several members as Trustees In Training, inclusive of Brother Percy Allen, Brother Charles Parrish, Sister Alicia Williams, and Brother Emmett Williams. Several were also appointed to the Deaconess, including Moncella McCree, Jan Taylor-President, Osia Evans, Helen Evans, Helen Roberson Melissa Peterson, Pauline Ajose, Virginia Frink, Marcia Washington, Lumisher James, Sylvia Etheridge & Rosetta Laster. Sister Sandra Parrish, Church Clerk and Sister Joyce Lang, Assistant Church Clerk served and continue to serve as recorders. Under the 8-year leadership tenure of Pastor Dr. Todd C. Davidson, Piney Grove grew tremendously to approximately 1800 members. He resigned July of 2012.

Continued Growth Under Pastor Williams

On December 7, 2013, the Church called Pastor D.L. Williams as Pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church by majority vote. During his tenure, there was progress made that has allowed the church to increase its parking lot of over 250 parking spaces, an admin wing with a new pastor’s office, trustee office, supporting staff offices, a welcome lobby and a conference room. In June of 2015, the City Planning Commission and the City Council of Virginia Beach approved the expansion of our parking lot and the building of a new edifice, and the church broke ground for this building project on February 12, 2017.

Pastor Williams ordained several deacons: Joseph Burgess, Terrance Evans & Ronald Frink. Current Deacon elects include Joseph Allen, Larry Ames, Edward Caldwell, Llyod Claude, Herman Fonville, Teddy Griffin, & Phillip McCall. New Trustees were approved to train as a trustee (Arthur Beverly; Thomas Wolfe).

In August of 2016, Pastor Williams licensed several ministers: Clyde Bennett, Hannah Dancy-Dunbar, Michael Dunbar, Howard Gordon, OluFemi Bailey-Gordon, Angela Hunter, James Laster, Sydnette Lopez, Pedro Lopez, & Dre’Langala Sewell; and also ordained Minister Angela Lambert, Laverne Ethridge & Linda Isaac. Pastor Williams served as pastor for nine years. The church accepted his letter of resignation in November of 2023.

Piney Grove Baptist Church is currently being held up in spiritual growth and guidance by Chairman of the Deacon Ministry, Deacon Joseph Burgess.