Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church was first established in the fertile Mississippi Delta approximately three miles south of Greenville. Authentic records dated as early as 1918 indicate that Pilgrim rest has always been keenly aware of its obligations to serve the religious and social needs of its community. It is not known who the organizers were or why the group was established at that particular time, but records do indicate that the church was founded on the true principles of Christianity. Pilgrim Rest has always been competitive force in the war against sin and infidelity. Being borne by members recently out of human slavery, the church in its early existence struggled to survive. Determination and faith, the ties that obviously held the congregation together during those lean years after the abolition of slavery. The church was established in the midst of a social revival; the adjustment of Blacks after their new found freedom. It is undoubtedly one of the first to be established during that period and which still remains to serve the same community. For more than one hundred years, Pilgrim Rest has remained a majestic symbol of faith and hope to this community. The credit for the longevity and endurance relies heavily upon its leadership- past and present. Despite its long standing existence, the church has had only four pastors, and each one distinctively different from the other, and yet effective.
Reverend Williams is recorded as being the first pastor of the church. He was elected in 1896 and served thirty-five (35) years, he constantly worked to improve the building as well as to serve the needs of the membership. Even though there are no pictures or written description of the buildings, history records that most Blacks held their church services either in their private homes or in small type buildings. It is believed that in the first few years after the abolition of slavery. Black churches were established in homes with Christians who simply wanted to come together and worship. It is was early in Reverend William’s administration that the church is believed to have acquired its first parcel of land and a church building; however, it is not known whether it was before or after the destruction of the regular meeting place by fire and then again by the Great Flood of 1927.
J. F. Redmon’s Administration
It was upward and onward with Reverend Redmon. He was the first of the aggressive ministers whose enthusiasm and dedication moved the church forward. This fortitude reigned throughout the membership. During his forty-one (41) years, the church relocated several times, finally settling in its present location in 1949. This new move was the realization of a dream for a new and modern facility unprecedented in the history of the church. Through Reverend Redmon’s ingenious leadership, he led the church in continued financial endeavors to acquire and maintain a building suitable and contemporary to the times and to the growing enthusiastic membership. At the end of forty one (41) years, Reverend Redmon left as the testimony of service of record of successful accomplishment. Pilgrim Rest associate minister, W. M. Prince carried on services during the interim period prior to Rev. Young becoming elected.
JERRY YOUNG’S ADMINISTRATION
Reverend Jerry Young came to Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church and found a congregation eager to follow his sincere theological leadership. He led his followers to realize the dream of a debt-free church, and an optimum atmosphere conductive to growth, and an expansion of church programs. For years since its establishment, the church had to be concerned about financial stability. Now with no financial problems to strain the energies, the congregation was left to devote full time to true worship untarnished with church raffles, sales of dinners, or other special financial incentive programs. With this new found relief and blessings the congregation realized a new depth in religious dimensions, unity and sincerity in spiritual growth. The Church expanded its regular worship programs to semi-monthly meetings. There was a sense of renewed dedication to Christianity which seemed to prevail in a contagious kind of way. The church grew continuously toward a more Christ-like projection as the theological doctrines of the young minister propelled the members to a closer relationship with God and with each other. For six and a half years the church grew in membership, Christian fellowship and financial stability until Reverend Young’s resignation in 1979 or 1980.
DR. ALBERT MARK HINES SR.
On March 26, 1980, Reverend Mark Hines became the fourth pastor of Pilgrim Rest. He immediately set about to effect radical changes and methods in Christian attitudes and routine worship service. The church soon became a full time church and the membership grew in staggering numbers and the once adequate facilities became inadequate and the building could no longer accommodate the mammoth crowds which assembled in the sanctuary each Sunday to hear the new vivacious minister, the new pastor, the radical changes in worship and to join with Pilgrim Rest and pastor Hines. The Expansion of membership outgrew the facilities. While many long range plans remain incomplete, there are many noticeable improvements and changes already in effect; A Bus ministry has been added to serve the members more effectively, and subsequent ministries and building plans are now under spiritual scrutiny, as Phase I have been completed. Pilgrim Rest has stood for more than a hundred years and there is no indication that it will not stand for many more years. Its success can be credited to divine-blessings, its four dedicated pastors and loyal members, some of whom have held membership in excess of fifty years. Presently, the church is thriving and remains optimistic in its spiritual belief that it is carrying out God’s command. Praise God!
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