Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church History


As of April, 2016

It is with great joy that we celebrate the Seventy-Second 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 city-wide 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 the growing church.  (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 Godís 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, Sr. 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 ordination he was elected Pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church.  He served as Pastor of Mountain View for several years.  He returned to Pilgrim and was an Associate Minister at Pilgrim until his death, March 31, 2013. 

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 of 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 to the south of the church for future expansion of the building.  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 was 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, "The Eric Echoes", and the Transportation Ministry. 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 was called from labor to reward September 19, 2009.)

 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.  Prayer Meeting and Bible Study are held every Wednesday night.  

Currently, we have five Deacons: Jesse Turner, Chairman, Bryce Turner, Curtis Caviness, Jesse Goode, Jr., and Ricky Neamo.  

Our Trustees are Jesse Goode, Jr., Napoleon Redd, Frederick Neamo, John Swanson, and Michael Williams.

During the past seventy-two 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 50 years.  The Music Ministry now includes the Senior Choir, Pilgrim Travelers, Youth Choir, and a Male Chorus.  

Minister Terry Moore has united with Pilgrim and is an Associate Minister.

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

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

   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.  

In January, 2011, The Above and Beyond Campaign was started to build a financial base to launch into a project to build an addition to the Church. The building project Committee met for the first time on January 13, 2011.  The members of the Committee are listed: Deacon Jesse B. Goode, Jr., Chairman, Deacon Bryce S. Turner, Co-Chairman, Deacon Charles Johnson, Jr., Deacon Jesse Turner, Deacon Curtis Caviness, Deacon Tason L. Foreman, Cheryl Stephens, Celia Turner, Naydene Wells, Sheliah Gilliam, Shirlene Wilson, Lorestine Penn, Mary Spencer, Frederick Neamo, Debra Neamo, and Napoleon Redd. 

In 2011, Pilgrim purchased the adjacent property to the east of the building.

A ground breaking ceremony service was held August 27, 2011 to initiate the beginning of the construction of a new building adjacent to the existing church structure.

 In February, 2012 the beauty of the Sanctuary was enhanced with some renovations so that it would blend with the newness of the recent addition.  In fact, a new porch, front entrance, and foyer has been merged together to give the appearance of one building.

 The new building was completed March 29, 2012 and the Dedication Service was held April 21, 2012.  The new addition includes a Fellowship hall, kitchen, pastor's study, classrooms, and library (The Dr. Theo B. Marsh Library) was moved to this location. Audio visual equipment, flat screen TV's, and new kitchen appliances have been installed. In May 2014, a stained glass panel with the church name boldly embossed was installed over the front entrance doors.

The membership at Pilgrim is increasing, Spiritual growth is evident, and God has blessed us to expand the physical structure so we can better serve the people. 

Pilgrim is a member of the Smith River Missionary Baptist Association and the Virginia Baptist State Convention.  Also, Pilgrim partners with the Grace Network to help meet the needs of people in our community.

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.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 NASB

PMBC Vision Statement

To advance the kingdom of God with an effective 21st century ministry, this is inclusive of Exalting the Savior; Equipping the Saints; and Evangelizing the Sinners! 


Pilgrim MBC, Inc. was organized and set apart in the West End community of Martinsville, VA, with a mission to provide a place for spiritual worship and to cultivate Christian fellowship, unity and love. We spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ by preaching, reaching, teaching and training through the exaltation of God's Holy Word and Christian living for the Kingdom of God.