Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church History


As of April, 2010

It is with exceeding joy that we celebrate the Sixty-Seventh Anniversary of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. Gratefully, we remember our past knowing we have come this far by faith and the grace of God. The history of Pilgrim evolves from the story of a man with a vision and a small group of dedicated Christians gifted with faith and empowered by God to join with Him in His work here on earth.

The Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, previously known as Pilgrim Baptist Church, was established because Rev. J.E. Wade worked hard to make his vision a reality. He sought to organize a church in the West End Community of Martinsville, Virginia even though most of the people residing in the area had their membership with other churches.

As a first step to inspire and motivate the people to come together and embrace the vision, a club was organized with bylaws based on religious principles and objectives. This club was known as the Pioneer Club. The people of the community united and a small clubhouse was built.

In the little clubhouse Rev. Wade began to preach. A citywide revival was held, and seven people received Christ as their Savior. Six of these desired to unite with other churches, but one, John R. Perkins, expressed his desire to stay and become a part of the emerging church. Others came to Christ in services held at the Pioneer Clubhouse. Mrs. Nora Green became the second person to join the developing church. On April 29, 1944 with the united efforts of Rev. Wade, John Perkins, Nora Green, Clara Williams, John King and Nora King, Pilgrim Baptist Church was organized with the consent of the Baptist Ministers and Deacons Union.

After the organization of Pilgrim Baptist Church, morning worship services were held the first and third Sunday of each month because Rev. Wade was the pastor of three other churches. Sunday School was held each Sunday under the supervision of Superintendent John King. Later in 1944, Rev. Wade asked Rev. Jacob Dillard to come to Pilgrim to serve so that he could devote more time to several other churches. One of which was in the process of building. Even though Rev. Dillard was young in the ministry and this was his first pastoral position he served with wisdom, effectively and diligently from 1944-1948. His leadership helped to develop the solid foundation of the newly established church. Over twenty members were added to the flock during his watch.

In 1948, Rev. Wade returned and resumed the position as Pastor. In 1949, with 31 members and $300.00 Pilgrim started the construction of a $29,000 building. This mission embraced the well known Biblical principle: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible unto you." The construction of the building was completed in 1951 and a cornerstone service was held to commemorate the completion.

Shortly after Rev. Wade returned, Sister Clara Williams was elected mother of the church. She served faithfully and was a help to many. (Mother Williams went home to be with the Lord November 28, 1998.)

The membership grew under the leadership of Rev. Wade and Pilgrim became a vital part of the West End community. Rev. John E. Wade labored with love as pastor of Pilgrim until God called him from this earthly vineyard on July 6, 1964.

On September 4, 1964, Rev. Theo B. Marsh was ordained and elected pastor. Under the leadership of Rev. Marsh, with God's guidance , a rally was climaxed on February 28, 1965; all the financial indebtedness of the church was paid with the funds that were raised.

On April 13, 1969, Deacon Charles Johnson preached his initial sermon. In August of 1970, he was ordained and elected assistant pastor of Pilgrim. He held this position until February, 1981. In May of 1974, however, he was called to pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Hardy, Virginia where he served until God called him to eternal rest on September 14, 1983.

Rev. MacArthur Clark, a member of Pilgrim, was ordained as a Minister of the Gospel on May 12, 1990. Shortly after his ordaination he was elected Pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church. He served as Pastor of Mountain View for several years. Rev. Clark is currently an Associate Minister at Pilgrim.

By the grace of God the church is continuing to grow and impact the lives of many for the glory of God. Sunday School and Morning Worship services are held every Sunday and Prayer Meeting and Bible Study is held each Wednesday night.

Currently, we have five active Deacons and one Deacon Emeritus. The Deacons are Chairman Jesse Turner, Curtis Caviness , Billy Hairston, Charles Johnson, Jr., and Bryce Turner. The Deacon Emeritus is Marvin G. Gravely.

Our Trustees are Charles Johnson, Jr., Jesse Goode, Jr., Napoleon Redd, and Frederick Neamo.

During the past sixty-seven years a number of dedicated musicians have assisted in the Music Ministry by playing the piano, guitar, or drums. Sister Catherine Foreman, our pianist at this time, has served for 45 years. The Music Ministry now includes the Senior Choir, Pilgrim Travelers, Youth Choir and a Male Chorus.

We are one Body but we have many ministries: the Sunday School Ministry, Usher Ministry, Missionary Ministry, Pastor's Aid Ministry, Men's Ministry, Possibility Thinkers Club Ministry, Nurse Ministry, Hospitality Ministry, Culinary Ministry, Youth Ministry, Praise and Worship Team Ministry, Christian Education Ministry, and the Liturgical Dance Ministry ("Anointed by God").

Through the years many improvements have been made to maintain and upgrade the church premises. Some of these improvements are listed below:
* June 1971, air conditioning was installed, and the parking lot was paved.
* In the fall of 1975, an annex was added and the Sanctuary was remodeled.
* 1979 the floors were refinished and carpet was installed.
* 1982 a stained glass mural of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was installed in back of the pulpit.
* September, 1985, the church pews were upholstered. A fully equipped kitchen was constructed in the basement area.
* 2007 air conditioning was added in the lower auditorium.
Stuart Pannill donated an organ to the church in December, 1993 in memory of Lamont Martin.

Pilgrim has two vans: a passenger van and a handicapped van that have become vital to our church's transportation ministry.

The Rev. Dr. Theo Marsh retired as Pastor of Pilgrim December 31, 2002 after 38 years of service. He then was designated Pastor Emeritus.

On June 6, 2004 Rev. Dr. Eric Fechon Hairston, Sr. was called to be the pastor at Pilgrim. He was officially ordained August 28, 2004 at Star Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Hairston was installed as Pastor of Pilgrim, October 3, 2004.

Under Pastor Hairston's leadership we have purchased the adjoining property for future expansion of the church. A Mission Statement has been written, a separate telephone line has been installed for pastoral counseling; four computers have been purchased with internet service; the balcony section of the church has been renovated and new seating is in place; a church Library has been established in the "upper room" with over a hundred books available. The following Ministries have come into being since October, 2004: the Praise and Worship Team, the Hospitality Ministry, the Christian Education Ministry, the Liturgical Dance Ministry, and "The Eric Echoes". Also, Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church was incorporated in 2007.

On September 13, 2009, the Church Library was named the "Dr. Theo B. Marsh Library." Also, a scholarship was established in his name. Rev. Marsh went home to live with the Lord September 19, 2009.

Pilgrim has purchased the adjacent property to the south and to the east of the present building. We started The Above and Beyond Campaign in January, 2011, and we are moving forward in a building project to build a fellowship hall, office spaces, and classrooms.

Truly God has blessed us through the years. We respectfully remember the past and we prayerfully embrace the present as we move forward into the future expecting to do a greater work for the Lord.