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Camp meeting is tradition at Pleasant Grove
In the pulpit
1101 In the Pulpit
Brenda Baker - photo by Photo provided.
It has been an exciting week of celebration for Pleasant Grove African Methodist Episcopal Church. Camp meeting services began last Sunday evening and will culminate today at 3:30 p.m.
Each year, the camp meeting is one of the largest religious celebrations, for both the church and Liberty County.  
Many people of faith who have lived in Liberty County for a long time know this event is not to be missed.  The camp meeting is an integral part of the county’s history. It is always celebrated on the first Sunday and includes spiritual renewal, food, fun and fellowship.
Pleasant Grove AME was organized on June 29, 1869, in Taylors Creek. The founder and first pastor was the Rev. Piner Martin, a local community leader.
“The members worshiped in a small frame house. The first church was called the African Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Later, the growing membership purchased 16.6 acres of land and built a larger church,” said Donald Lovette, church historian.  
Pleasant Grove is currently under the leadership of Pastor John E. Morse Jr. He has been the pastor since 2003, and the church is growing, spiritually and physically. The 2009 camp meeting is the seventh under Morse’s leadership. This year’s theme, “A Hope and a Future,” is from Jeremiah 29:11.
The meeting began last Sunday, Oct. 25, when members, friends and visitors gathered for preaching, prayer, songs and fellowship. Elder Robert Plummer of Savannah was the first guest speaker. Services continued each night at 7, with Dr. James Evans of St. James Baptist Church in Ludowici on Monday; the Rev. Earnest Ryals of Mt. Mariah AME Church in Jesup on Tuesday; the Rev Richie Williams of Bethel AME Church in Hinesville on Wednesday; the Rev. Edgar Timmons of Riceboro Missionary Baptist in Riceboro on Thursday; and the Rev. Ashley Morris of St. James AME Church in Jones on Friday.
The weeklong celebration ends today with a service at 10 a.m. featuring Morse. Dinner will be served on the grounds at noon followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m.. The final service is at 3:30 p.m. with Bishop Julian Jones of Higher Dimension Fellowship in Rincon.
Members of Pleasant Grove say they are proud of their history and the active role the church plays in the community. The church has a spirit of community activism, and several local politicians are members. The camp meeting has become a time for the congregation to set aside their busy schedules and celebrate together.
The church’s members include Morse, who is also a superior court judge in Chatham County; local playwright and historian Donald Lovette, who serves as Liberty County Commissioner for the 2nd District; Liberty County Board of Education member Charlie Frasier; Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier; Walthourville Mayor Daisy Pray; and Walthourville City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Larry Baker.
Pleasant Grove is also home to the 2009 district and conference queen for the Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Brenda Baker, Mayor Pro Tem Larry Baker’s wife, recently was crowned. “I initially competed at the local level (which was the church), then the district and conference levels,” she said.  
At the district level, Brenda Baker competed against other women from AME churches in the West Savannah area. Next, she made it to the conference level, which pitted her against women in the Old Georgia Conference. Baker then competed at the sixth Episcopal Leadership Congress and was the first runner-up. “The sixth Episcopal competition was held in Augusta and AME contestants from throughout the state of Georgia were represented,” Baker said.
“It was a great experience. I enjoyed running and met lots of people.”  she said. “Once I got to Augusta, I was overwhelmed ... ”
Pleasant Grove AME Church invites you to the final day of their 2009 camp meeting.  

Anderson is the author of “Lack of Knowledge” and “Dare to Soar.”
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