The 150th Church Anniversary and dedication of the new Pleasant Grove AME Church sanctuary will be observed June 19-23. Pleasant Grove AME is at 1450 West Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville.
Organized on June 29, 1869 at Taylors Creek, the origins of Pleasant Grove date to after the Civil War, when the Reverend Henry McNeal Turner helped to establish hundreds of AME churches in Georgia for newly freed African Americans. The first Trustees were Samuel Frasier, Rev. Piner Martin, Samuel Martin, Syrus Smiley, and Solomon Smith.
The Reverend Piner Martin (1807-1904), a local community leader served as the first pastor. For African Americans living in the Taylors Creek area from 1869-1941, the Pleasant Grove AME Church was a religious, educational and social center.
On October 3, 1941, the United States government purchased the church property and dwellings for $1,600 as part of its efforts to establish Camp Stewart (now Ft. Stewart). In 1942 the church was reestablished on Georgia Highway 38 near Allenhurst.
In 2003, an historical marker was erected by the Liberty County Historical Society to honor the legacy and historical relevance of the church and its Annual Camp Meeting Celebration that serves as the annual gathering place of the African American residents and descendants of Taylors Creek, Willie, Cypress Slash, Stewart Town, Strum Bay and other former disbanded African American communities and churches. Thus, the adopted theme “the tie that binds.”
In 2008, an interpretive marker was erected at the original church site at Fort Stewart designating the former church site as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2013, the church erected a monument to commemorate the lives and the contributions of former church members, many of whom are buried in unmarked graves at the church’s original site on Fort Stewart. The inscription on the monument is “Lest We Forget.”
The church motto is “God First.” The church membership stands at approximately 200. The mission of Pleasant Grove is to continue to serve the spiritual needs of the greater Liberty County community. There are approximately 15 active ministries. The newest ministry, The Outreach Ministry, was organized in 2016 to further engage the church body into the community it serves. Rev. John E. Morse, Jr. serves as Pastor.
The celebratory’ s week’s schedule begins at 7 p.m. nightly starting Wednesday, June 19 with the Youth in charge; June 20 with Baconton Baptist Church and Friday, June 21 “New School versus Old School” Gospel Fest.
The June 23 150th Church Anniversary and Dedicatory service begins at 11:30 a.m. with the Rt. Reverend Reginald T. Jackson, Presiding Bishop of the 6th Episcopal District as the proclaimer. Special recognitions will be given to the “Living Legends” of Taylors Creek. The service will close with the cornerstone laying and fellowship dinner. For more information call 912-368-3266/4112. The public is invited to attend.