HISTORY OF PINEY BRANCH BAPTIST CHURCH
History informs us that there was a Piney Branch Church in 1768. According to Slaughter in his history of St. George's Parish, he states that Edward Herndon and Joseph Brack were instructed to make a contract to build a church near Burbridges Bridge. It was located three miles northwest from Spotsylvania on Rt. 210, two (2) miles north on Rt. 624 on the east side of the road, known as Piney Branch Road and was used for Episcopal services until after the War Between the States.
Sempler in his history states that Piney Branch was organized in 1789, by J. Waller. In 1806 the church had forty members with Henry Goodloe as Pastor. Jacob Herndon and Jeremiah Chandler also preached there.
Piney Branch was a frame building constructed in the usual style of country churches, with a gallery across the front. It had a high pulpit and the outside was painted yellow. For that reason it was called the "little yellow church."
During times of slavery, slaves were permitted to sit in the gallery for worship services. The scrapbook of Mrs. Annie Parker says that Piney Branch was dissolved the fourth Saturday in May 1854 and was reorganized May 1855 by Brethren(s) Bennett, Rowe and Owens.
Information from the Library of Congress informs us that General Grant used Piney Branch to care for his wounded men.
There is no record which gives an account of a place of worship for the Negroes during the war when the church was dissolved, but we found in the histories of other churches that the Negro became dissatisfied with the little space allotted to them, and they asked to form a congregation.
After 1869, the congregation of the Piney Branch Baptist Church dwindled and the building fell to decay. Some of the members moved their membership to the Wilderness Baptist Church, and sometime after 1872, Goshen Church was organized and others attended there. Some of the people of this vicinity found a place of worship in Mt. Zion Baptist Church. According to dates, they attended Mt. Zion approximately four to five years.
As time passed, their physical strength caused them to desire a place of worship in this community. Under the guidance of Reverend Walker Howard, a brush arbor was erected near the site where Piney Branch was located. It was located on a tract of land commonly known as Church Hill. This shelter served its purpose for awhile, and during that time the school board purchased land to build a school where the adjoining building now stands.
Those attending the brush arbor purchased two acres to build a church, as the original Piney Branch had fallen to decay. The name Piney Branch was handed down to this log structure, and it became known as the Piney Branch Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Walker Howard.
Other dynamic leaders appeared, such as Reverend L. B. Coleman, Reverend Tommie Thompson and the Reverend C. H. Coleman. During these years, the old log church began to decay, and this structure was replaced by a more modern structure. It was a frame building with weatherboard siding, a metal roof and concrete steps, which is the only part of the original structure that remains today. The early workers during Reverend Tommie Thompson's tenure were: Deacon and Mrs. Charles Hughlett, Deacon and Mrs. Lemuel Byrd, Deacon Bass Young, Mrs. Ella Robinson, Deacon and Mrs. John Lewis, Mr. Horace Slaughter, Mrs. Rachel Collins and others.
With years of wear and tear, this more modern structure became inadequate, and under the leadership of Reverend H. J. Ellis, for it was he who visualized the need and possibility of a new church building, the church lay-leaders and members of the congregation made this a reality. That new building is the one in which we worship today. The helpers that assisted Reverend Ellis in erecting this edifice are now deceased, but the church membership will always have a deep appreciation for the efforts of the following people: Deacon Thomas Lewis, Mrs. Otelia Robinson, Miss Grace Jackson, Mrs. Jennie Young, Miss Narcissus Robinson, Deacon Kube Robinson, Mr. Robert Hollins, Mrs. Lewellyn Lee, Mr. Mills Lewis, Mr. Albert Robinson, Deacon Thomas Pryor, Mrs. Clara Robinson, Mr. Joseph Woodward, Miss Annie Wright and others. They carried the same enthusiasm for establishing and maintaining a place of worship as did their forefathers.
The late Reverend Ellis labored here for fifteen years under God, against the foes of the evil world until January of 1943 when God took him to eternal rest.
In 1944, Reverend R. M. Robinson, a son of the church, was called to the pastorate. He was a faithful and devoted Pastor for seven years at which time he resigned and accepted the call to Pastor the 2nd New Hope Baptist Church, Summit, VA. During the pastorate of Reverend Robinson, the accomplishments were many. The Old School property was purchased, the heating system installed, the toilet facilities were added, a Junior Choir was organized and the membership increased.
In 1953, Reverend Joseph R. Despot was called to the pastorate and for fourteen years rendered an effective and efficient service until he accepted a call to Pastor the First Baptist Church in Louisa, VA.
Our church grew under his leadership, a full time worship service was established, carpeting was installed, stained windows were added, the interior and exterior of the church was redecorated, the Pulpit Circle and grounds committees were formed, a baptismal pool was installed, the grounds were beautified and many souls were added to the membership. Reverend Despot stood high but was always near when needed. Those now deceased that helped Reverend Despot in his church projects were: Mr. Nelson Hughlett, Mr. Harry Collins, Mrs. Pearl Banks, Mrs. Melissa Hollins, Mr. Raymond Robinson and Mrs. Mattie Lewis.
In October 1967, Reverend Morris J. Walker, Jr., a native of Warrenton, VA was called to the pastorate. Due to illness, Reverend Walker did not fill the pulpit until November. At that time, the Piney Branch Club of Washington, D. C. was organized. That Club contributed approximately $5,000 to the support of the church.
Under his leadership, there were many accomplishments including: the installation of the furnace, stained glass windows (in the pulpit area), insulation in the ceiling and sidewalls, vinyl siding, new light fixtures, ceiling fans and air conditioning, electrical wiring, outside lights and new front doors. Additionally, the following were completed: a sliver cup (original communion cup) was refinished; a new plywood and shingle roof; refurbishment of pulpit furniture; rebuilding of the wayside pulpit, surveying of church property and installation of boundary markers; remodeling of the foyer; repairing of the school building; remodeling of the sanctuary with new padded pews and carpet; remodeling of the basement (which included a new baptism pool), bathrooms, new kitchen, and new water fountain; purchase of an organ, piano, PA system, choir and study furniture; a copy machine, computer, TV, video camera and CD player. Also, construction of an outside bulletin board, a Bible Study, Deaconess Board and Youth Council was established. The most important accomplishment is the many people who came to Christ during his tenure and the many lives he changed who are now living for the Lord. He served thirty-six years and retired in November 2003.
We are always filled with a sense of gratitude and profound respect for all he did as he shaped the destiny of our pilgrimage. Under his guidance, we were confident that Piney Branch would not perish but would move onward and upward to an everlasting heritage.
In January 2004, Reverend Morris Oliver became interim Pastor of the Piney Branch Baptist Church. He is a native of Crewe, VA and the son of Deaconess Florence Oliver and the late Deacon James G. Oliver. He was licensed in the Gospel Ministry at First Baptist Church of Blacksburg and ordained in October 1995, at what is now Victory Temple Missionary Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia. He resigned as interim Pastor on March 11, 2007. Accomplishments during his tenure were; construction of the ramp, remodeling of the bathrooms, and formation of the Praise Team.
Reverend Oliver was a faithful shepherd, and we thank God for sending him our way and for all he has given to the Piney Branch Church family.
During our pastoral search for new leadership, we were blessed with many great ministers who provided care to our congregation through preaching, teaching, discipleship and spiritual guidance, and visitation. We would like to give thanks to all of the ministers who served as guests during this process.
On Wednesday, November 5, 2008, Reverend Dwight B. Micheal, Sr., a native of Durham, North Carolina, was selected as the Pastor of this Branch of Zion. On Sunday, November 9th, Reverend Micheal, Sr. preached his first sermon as the Pastor of Piney Branch Baptist Church entitled “Let’s Take A Walk”. Reverend Micheal, Sr., was licensed to preach the Gospel on February 26, 1995 and later ordained to the Gospel Ministry on June 12, 1999 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Woodbridge, Virginia, where he served as the Youth Pastor for thirteen years. Reverend Micheal, Sr. has brought God’s vision and new energy by preaching and teaching that God’s vision for Piney Branch is spoken through the scripture, Ephesians 4:12; is that the Body be perfected, so that they may know their purpose and that the whole assembly can progress. Since his arrival, the Piney Branch membership has grown and become revitalized as evidenced by increased attendance at Sunday School, the Morning Worship Service and Bible Study, and the level of participation in church ministries. Since November 2008, the following accomplishments have been realized: the establishment of an 8 a.m. Worship Service on 5th Sundays; an Email Ministry; the H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Patiently Endure) Ministry; the Meet Me at the Branch Conference Call Ministry; and a Media Ministry.
Peace to our leaders and thanks to Almighty God. Our Founding Fathers that have crossed the bar, whose hands were scarred with the work they have done, are looking for this old ship of Zion, the Piney Branch Baptist Church, to be among those landing to welcome us there, where we shall rest from labors and claim our reward. Our history has been ablaze with its good and bad, its living witness to the world that its foundations have been rich and pure, for through many dangers, toils and snares we have come one-hundred-thirty-seven years for God. Praise God for His untold blessings to this, our church, Piney Branch Baptist Church.