History of the Piney Grove Church

by Rev. Andy Clay Harris

The Piney Grove Baptist Church located in the Boughton Township of Nevada County, five miles Northeast of Prescott, Arkansas, was established in 1892 as a Missionary Baptist Church by the Rev. Elijah DeLaughter. The original church building was constructed on land belonging to Mr. William Huey Garner, who later sold the property to Henry and Lizzie Hooks. On October 28, 1902, they deeded the land (the Northwest, West corner of the Northwest quarter of the Northeast quarter of Section 36, Township 10, Range 22 West Corner, containing one acre) to the church for the sum of $5.00.

A revival meeting began at Piney Grove in 1914, with the Rev. William Jethro Walthall. During the services several people were converted to Christ and many who were sick testified to being healed of their ailments as the evangelist prayed for them. The Rev. Walthall's powerful preaching stressed a return to the New Testament pattern of Christianity as recorded in the Book of Acts, including the experience of being "filled with the Holy Ghost," according to Acts 2:4. As the Pentecostal message was proclaimed, scores of people in the community accepted the teaching and received the Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the initial, physical evidence of speaking in other tongues.

This resulted in a division in the congregation led by the Rev. DeLaughter, who stood up in one of the services, and shouted, "All of you folks that don't agree with this heresy that Walthall's preaching, get up with me and let's walk out of this church!" There were a few who left Piney Grove with him. Mrs. Blanche Hooks Walthall, who witnessed the incident, stated, "Those who hadn't received the Holy Ghost had caused quite a bit of trouble for the rest of us who had. And when that bunch walked out of Piney Grove, we shouted all over that church!"

It is reported that those who left Piney Grove took the matter to court in hopes of maintaining ownership of the church building. The judge, however, refused to hear the case, saying that when the DeLaughter faction got up and walked out of the church, they did, in fact, leave, and it was no longer their church. So, it became necessary for the dissenting group to find a new location and begin a new church. This is how the Boughton Baptist Church came into existence.

The Rev. Walthall was ordained to preach with the Missionary Baptist Church on May 29, 1886. Six years later, he founded the Holiness Baptist Association, and, following the revival of 1914, Piney Grove joined this movement, which the Rev. Walthall served as Chairman until October, 1917.

The General Council of the Assemblies of God was founded in Hot Springs, Arkansas, April 1-12, 1914. On January 23, 1917, the Rev. Walthall affiliated with the Arkansas-Louisiana District Council of the Assemblies of God, which convened at Malvern, Arkansas. Through his influence, he also brought the 36 congregations of the Holiness Baptist Association, including Piney Grove, into fellowship with the Arkansas-Louisiana District Council of the Assemblies of God. The leadership which the Rev. Walthall exemplified was highly respected, and the following year, at the District Council held in Russellville, Arkansas, he was elected District Superintendent, which office he held with the exception of three years until October, 1929.

When Piney Grove affiliated with the Arkansas-Louisiana District Council of the Assemblies of God in 1917, the name of the church was changed from Piney Grove Baptist Church to Piney Grove Assembly of God. On December 3, 1936, the church received its certificate of affiliation with the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

The Pastors of Piney Grove in the earliest days of the church included: Rev. Cicero Kelly, Rev. P. F. Ramsey, Rev. W. Carl Elmore, Rev. J. Monroe Elmore, Rev. Francis, Rev. A.W. Tanner, and Rev. Jewel H Murry. In later years, the following statistics are noted:


1933	Rev. A.N. Baum	125
1934-35	Rev. Z.J. Launius	100
1936	Rev. James F. Warren	100
1937	Rev. Fred Samson	164
1938-40	Rev. Clyde Waters	164
1941	Rev. J.W. Thompson	50
1942	Rev. Jenkins	50
1943	Rev. Roland Hasley	50
1944	Rev. Julia Orren Howard	50
1945	Rev. F.A. Mays	50
1946-48	Rev. James F. Warren	45
1949	Rev. Ray Allen	45
1950	Rev. B.L. Manning	56
1951-52	Rev. Jack Gresham	56
1952-53	Rev. E.T. Collins	56
1954	Rev. Ivy	56
1955	Rev. Roland Hasley	56
1956-58	Rev. Hilton Shapley	25
1959-60	Rev. Fred Samson	50
1964-65	Rev. Ridgell Murphy	30
Until 1945, the Piney Grove church facilities had included a 32' x 32' structure and an adjacent four room parsonage. When the Cecil School, which had served the students of the Boughton community, consolidated with Prescott, the old school house was donated to Piney Grove. The Assembly voted to remodel the school house into a new church building 36' x 50', and convert the old church building into a new parsonage.

Church attendance in the early days of Piney Grove was outstanding for a rural congregation. On several occasions, there would be as many people standing or sitting around the outside of the church building as there would be on the inside. The forceful preaching, spirited singing, and exuberant worship would attract spectators from all over the countryside. Some came to see firsthand what the Pentecostal experience was all about, and, after studying the Scriptures for themselves, discovered that it was, indeed, the truth. Others came to mock and scorn, only to be seized with conviction and find themselves running to the altar pleading for God's mercy and forgiveness.

While a few may have criticized the theology of the saints at Piney Grove, no one could deny the fact that the membership comprised some of the finest citizens in the community--men and women who were honest in their business dealings, loyal to their families, and always ready to give their neighbors a helping hand.

World war II dealt a crushing blow to Piney Grove from which it never fully recovered. Membership dropped from 164 to 50. Regular church services continued at Piney Grove until 1960, and after that, sporadically, until the church officially closed on June 18, 1965. The majority of people who had once lived in the Boughton Township had since moved to Prescott, where many of them had become members of the Fist Assembly of God.

The funeral of Mrs. Tennie Ridgell on November 25, 1972, was the last service to conducted at Piney Grove Assembly of God. The building was torn down shortly thereafter.

The church building is now gone, but the peaceful cemetery just across the road stands as a constant reminder of the men and women who gave their lives to the cause of Christ and have now received their eternal reward in Heaven. Even now, on a quiet day, when there is nothing but a gentle breeze blowing, it seems you can still year, yet, the joyful sound of the saints who prayed, who sang, and who shouted the glory down as they worshiped the Lord at Piney Grove!

This document was sent to PCFA.ORG via e-mail.

From malonevl@TRANSPORT.COM Mon Jan  5 09:29:46 1998
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 08:42:47 -0800
From: Vicki Malone 
To: admin@pcfa.org
Subject: History of Piney Grove Church