More than a thousand people filled the Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church, singing “We’ve Come this Far By Faith,” “We’re Marching to Zion” and other gospel songs as the church celebrated its 100-year anniversary on Aug. 2.
The church’s senior pastor, William E. Flippin, Sr., led the crowd in a ceremonial walk from the building where they worshipped for the last time to the church’s newly built sanctuary.Flippin recalled the church’s humble beginnings a century ago.
“God has brought us from a three-room house with a pot-bellied stove for heat to a magnificent tabernacle for God with more than 30,000 square feet for us to build on,” said Flippin, who oversees a congregation of about 7,000. “To all of our members and friends who have sacrificed your time, your talents, and your dedication to bring this vision to fruition—I give you my deepest and sincerest gratitude and I pray God’s blessings upon you.”
Local leaders and politicians who joined Pastor Flippin on the ceremonial walk included: U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson; U.S. Senatorial candidate Michelle Nunn, State Senators Vincent Fort and Ronald Ramsey; State Representative Earnest “Coach” Williams; Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May, DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson and DeKalb District Attorney Robert James.
The walk led to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the church’s new sanctuary, which is located at the back of the church’s campus. The 7,200-square-foot sanctuary has 1,400 seats. The new place of worship features a large cross centerpiece, designed by Pastor Flippin, and a 100-seat choir loft.
PAR Construction of Macon, Georgia built the new edifice. The more than 30,000-square-foot facility will also serve as a community outreach center.
The Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr., of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, DC, delivered the opening-day sermon for the church, which was founded in 1914 on Bell Street in North East Atlanta.
Some of the church’s accomplishments include paying off a $400,000 mortgage on a 30-acre land tract that was purchased in 1996. Earlier this year, the church set up an exhibit in the church chronicling its history. The exhibit has historic artifacts such a letter of appreciation from Martin Luther King, Jr.; a 10x10 quilt that was handmade by congregation members to highlight the church’s five pastors and original church choir robes.
The Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church, located at 1879 Glenwood Ave., S.E., Atlanta, will continue to celebrate its 100th anniversary with a host of events during the remainder of August.
The month-long celebration continues on Sunday, Aug. 10, 3 p.m., when the church will host a dedication service for the new worship center. The guest speaker will be Pastor Jerry D. Black, senior pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Decatur. On Sunday, Aug. 17, the church will host “The Official Day of Celebration,” where motivational speaker, Dr. Samuel Chand, will speak at 7:15 a.m. and Bishop Jerry Hutchins will follow at 10:30 a.m.
Festivities also include a church revival where the Rev. Winfred Hope of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Athens and the Rev. Marcus Cosby of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, will join Pastor Flippin nightly, Aug. 18 – 20, at 7 to spread words of encouragement and inspiration for the community.
For more information on the church’s events, call 404-377-0561 or visit www.pineygrovebapt.org.