The past 50 years - Harmony Grove Baptist
Third in a series
by Betty Kennon
In 1960, Rev. Charles A. Chilton was called to be pastor of Harmony Grove Baptist Church on Route 33 near Topping. Rev. Chilton and his family were the first to live in the brick parsonage on Locklies Creek Road.
The newest wing of the educational building was erected as a two-story brick addition in 1964.
Rev. Chilton was succeeded by Rev. James Lowder in 1965. During Rev. Lowder’s pastorate, the choir section was enlarged and moved to the center of the church under the memorial window.
In 1969, Rev. Harold Crute came as pastor and further changes took place in the music ministry with the purchase of new choir furniture, choir robes and hymn books.
In 1973, Rev. David Pouchot accepted the call to Harmony Grove. He and his family soon won the hearts of the congregation and there was a surge of interest in the young people.
In 1977, Rev. Dennis Tucker came as pastor and was instrumental in writing the history of the church for the 125th anniversary celebration.
In 1991, Rev. Everett Hughes was called as pastor followed by Rev. Terry Sharpe in 1994. Terry and his wife Doris worked in all areas of the church and were instrumental in starting the after-school program. The choir, with their help, sang the Hallelujah Chorus one Easter Sunday morning.
In 1997 expansion work was done to the 1955 addition of the church. In 2000, Pastor Sharpe left Harmony Grove to start a new church in the Richmond area. Rev. Chet Smith came as interim pastor.
In 2001, the church called Rev. Ron Parr as pastor. Under his direction and leadership, the congregation put on the drive-through Easter Panorama, which was not only an inspiration to the members who were doing the performances, but to the hundreds of citizens who drove through to receive God’s message.
In 2003, Rev. Ron Parr resigned to return to a pastorate in North Carolina. The church called Rev. Edward P. Harrow Sr. in November of 2004 as our intentional-interim pastor. Under his leadership, the church revamped its constitution and policy and procedures as well as changing from the Family Ministry to Team Ministry.
On July 22, 2007, Harmony Grove called Dr. Roger M. Collier as pastor, who continues to lead the church today.
In 1991, the church began a food pantry, and in 1994 a children’s playground was established and continues to grow with added equipment.
In 1995 the first ordained female deacon was elected to the deacon fellowship, and in 1996 the first female was ordained by Harmony Grove as a deacon.
In 1998 stained glass memorials began to be installed and dedicated in the four windows in the rear of the sanctuary by members of the church for loved ones.
Also in 1998 three octaves of hand bells were donated to the church and, in 2000, the Harmony Grove Bell Choir came to life. These bells are put to use by 12 members of the church on a regular monthly basis and have even played for a wedding from the balcony of the church.
In 2000, the “Harmony Herald”—the church newsletter—started going to press monthly and sent to members and guests of the church.
In 2000, the church was also blessed with an American flag and flag pole, and a Christian flag and flag pole, donated by members in honor of their loved ones.
In 2001, the church purchased a new Baldwin grand piano.
In 2004, a choir for children was started.
In 2005, an elevator was installed on the east side of church so that the much-needed Sunday school classes could be used on the second floor.
Also in 2005, a podium was presented to Harmony Grove by family members of a deceased loved one.
In 2006, others donated new equipment for the youth minister’s office and a gift of a cabinet to display the church’s historical items.
On June 21, 2009, Harmony Grove will celebrate its 150th anniversary.
“Looking back in thanksgiving, and looking forward in faith,” may Harmony Grove Baptist Church remain “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
Years 51 - 100: Harmony Grove Baptist
The first 50 years: Harmony Grove Baptist