Sometimes the mission field is right in your backyard.
The Lord laid a mission on Mrs. Emma Eley’s heart in 1959. Mrs. Eley, a longtime Petersburg resident and member of Elm Street Baptist Church, grew concerned for her relatives in neighboring Dinwiddie, who had no local churches to attend near Route 1. After voicing her concerns to Elm Street, Reverend Charles Spain, Director of missions of the Petersburg Baptist Association, conducted a religious survey in the area. Through steadfast prayer and a foundation of faith, Elm Street voted unanimously on June 8, 1960 to establish a preaching mission five miles south of Petersburg on Route 1.
The Pink Elephant restaurant, now the Dinwiddie Moose Lodge, housed the first meetings of the mission with Elm Street’s support. Elm Street provided the mission $100 per month and the youth helped to lead the first Vacation Bible School held during the summer of 1960, which drew more than 50 participants. While the Pink Elephant restaurant housed the mission for a short time, the first meeting place will be forever commemorated in the Spain Conference Center at Camp Kehukee, where a section of the Pink Elephant wallpaper remains displayed today.
The mission continued to grow, and Reverend Charles (Chuck) Thompson became the first pastor on January 9, 1961. In 1963, the mission began construction on a church building, which was dedicated December 1, 1963. The mission under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Dennis Tucker, was constituted and formally named Pine Grove Baptist Church on June 26, 1969.
Throughout the 1970’s, the church continued to grow. Sunday school classrooms and a fellowship hall were added in 1975 and by 1979, a parsonage was purchased in Virginia Hills subdivision, located off Squirrel Level Road in Dinwiddie County. The parsonage continues to be in use today.
Mrs. Eley’s initial concern for the people in Dinwiddie was realized further in 2003, when the church purchased 34 acres of land on Dabney Mill Road with plans to build a larger facility. As constructions plans progressed, the original church building was sold in March 2009 to Emmanel, Church of Christ and Pin Grove services were held at Dinwiddie Elementary School and Smyrna Baptist Church from April 2009 until January 2010. The new building provided a sanctuary with seating for 250 people, a baptistry, pastor’s study, church office, a fellowship hall with full kitchen, nine classrooms, choir room, five bathrooms and a vestibule.
The first service in the new facility was held on January 24, and the new facility was dedicated May 23, 2010.
Pastors of Pine Grove Baptist Church (or mission)
Charles W. Thompson
Max P. Godwin
M. Kenneth Russell
Roger W. Wilcher
H. Russell Fail
Rodney Jenkins, Current Pastor