The First 100 Years:
The following is the history of Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church. No official records were kept until 1935. The only documentation of the first thirty-six years is by word of mouth.
In the year 1899, Rev. R.W. George, a self-supported evangelist of Stokes County, passed through this community on horseback. While riding through, he saw the opportunity for a thriving Presbyterian Church. He began preaching in a one-room log cabin known as Cook School, which stood almost directly across the road from the present location of this church. Here he preached once a month, traveling a distance of 16 miles. In order to fund money for a church, he challenged the congregation to give money. He promised to match their donations dollar for dollar. The people gave a total of $200 and Rev. George gave $200. Work immediately began on a new church sanctuary. The land on which the church stands was donated by Mr. William Henderson "Frank" Simmons. Under the guidance and supervision of Beauford Tucker, the new church was completed and was organized as "Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church" on July 1, 1900.
Pine Ridge began with thirteen members. Among those first thirteen were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cook, Caleb Cook, Mrs. J.F. Cook, Miss Sue Cook, Mrs. J.M. Flippen. Mr. Frank Cook and Mr. Caleb Cook were elected as the first Elders to Pine Ridge.
As the years went by, the church saw a steady increase in attendance. They held Sunday School each week during which attendance was as high as thirty people. They also began holding a Vacation Bible School each summer.
Bible School was started by Miss Virginia Hart in 1929. She was a graduate of the General Assembly's Training School and came to Pine Ridge as the home missions worker. She also formed a Young People's League since the population of youth-age people was so great in the neighborhood. Membership of the Young People's League was around forty-five.
Miss Hart relinquished her role in November of 1935 after marrying the Rev. W.G. Thomas. She was succeeded by Miss Nell Wilson in January of 1936. Miss Wilson was also a graduate of the Assembly's Training School. Miss Wilson held her first VBS that summer with an enrollment of forty-nine people, with a revival being held simultaneously by Rev. R.L. Berry. Enrollment at Pine Ridge at this time was said to be at sixty.
In the first thirty-six years of Pine Ridge Church's existence, they had seven different preachers in the pulpit. The first, of course, was Rev. R.W. "Bob" George. He served from 1899 - 1910. Following him was Rev. J.L. Bowers from 1911 - 1912. Rev. C.W. Ervin was called next. He served from 1913 - 1918. Rev. Satterfield served next, although no dates of his tenure could be found. From 1920 - 1923, Rev. R.L. Berry served as preacher, followed by Rev. J.D. Smith. Rev. Smith served the longest, from 1924 - 1935. Finally, Rev. James W. McFall served from 1935 - 1937.
By the year 1937, enrollment at Pine Ridge had reached seventy-one. Sunday school was being held each Sunday afternoon from 2:30 until 3:30. On alternating Sundays, an afternoon worship service was also held immediately following the Sunday School.
Later, in the fall of 1937, the members of the church gave money for a brand new pot-bellied stove for the congregation. This wood burning stove was placed in the middle of the center row of the three-rowed congregation Lanterns were also place up and down the aisles to provide light as there was no electricity then.
In the winter months that followed, Miss Wilson taught a course in Bible at Cook School. All three grades at Cook School attended this, with an average attendance of about seventy-five.
On April 1, 1938, Rev. McFall resigned as our pastor and accepted a call to Royal Oak Presbyterian Church in Marion, Va. Rev. J.K. Fleming served as a supply pastor from this date until August. Then , Rev. J.B. Fricken supplied until February, 1939. He was the pastor of the Mount Airy First Presbyterian Church. Following Rev. Fricken, the Rev. O.V. Caudill, Superintendent of Home Missions in Winston-Salem took over pastoral duties. Rev. Caudill only held services once a month.
Supply pastors for the next two years went unnoted and the next pastor available on record was Rev. John Foster. He became pastor of Pine Ridge in 1941. He served as pastor until 1943. Historical notification for the next decade is very rare. The only thing written for the next ten years was the session minutes. In these minutes, not many details were given on the happenings in the church. A couple of Statistical Reports were listed, however, and for the year ending March 31, 1942, membership stood at sixty-two with a Sunday School enrollment of fifty-one. The report also states enrollment for 1947, when membership had slipped down to fifty-four. Besides Rev. Foster, two other pastors served Pine Ridge in the forties. They were Fulton Lytle, who served from 1944 through 1945, and Carl Stark, Jr., who served from 1947 until 1952.
The only other historical note mentioned in this decade was the organization of The Women of Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church. The Women of the Church was organized November 3, 1949, under the guidance and supervision of Mrs. Dearmin. The women of the church began with twenty-two charter members, but quickly began adding new members. Church membership for 1949 was fifty-two. One year later, in 1950, membership was up to fifty-seven.
During Rev. Carl Stark's ministry, thought to be in the year 1950, the original Pine Ridge Church underwent remodeling. Rooms were added to both the front and back of the church. A kitchen, fellowship room and three Sunday School rooms were added.
In 1951, Pine Ridge set aside an entire month, July, for a daily Vacation Bible School. They had a total enrollment of forty-nine which was split up into three different classes. The classes were divided by the participant's ages. There was a beginner's class, a primary class and a junior class.
Actually, the class was only held for two weeks, and on the last day, the classes had a short review, then all gathered for a group picnic. Then on the following Sunday evening, each class performed a different program for all the parents to enjoy.
Sunday school for 1951 was at a total enrollment of sixty-three. There were four different classes taught: a beginners/primary class which had ten enrolled, a junior class with nineteen, an intermediate class with thirteen, and, of course, an adult class which had thirty enrolled.
As earlier noted, Rev. Stark ministerd Pine Ridge until the early part of 1952. In November of that same year, the Rev. J.T. Barham was installed as the pastor. By doing this Pine Ridge became a part of a larger Parish, which consisted of five other churches. The other members of our Parish were Collinstown, Asbury, Francisco, Hills and First Presbyterian in Pilot Mountain. The name of this Parish was the Pilot Mountain Larger Parish.
Daily Vacation Bible School was held again in 1953. It was only for one week this time, though, with an enrollment of fifty-six. They also provided four age groups this year instead of just the three.
Pine Ridge took up an interesting project in 1954. They planted an acre of tobacco. All the proceeds from this venture went toward buying new pews for the auditorium. They even came up with a name for the crop, The Lord's Acre. The Lord's Acre would continue for a total of three years.
Also that year, the Pilot Mountain Larger Parish tried to seek some fame. Rev. Kirk Hammond came up and visited the Parish for the purpose of taking pictures of the work that this Parish was doing. He put those pictures on film and named it "The Pilot." He then took this film around to other Parishes throughout the General Assembly to show them how a larger Parish works.
As the end of 1954 rolled around, Pine Ridge was once again without a pastor. Rev. Harry Barnette of Flat Rock Presbyterian church held a sermon for the congregation twice a month. He did this for the next several months. The year 1955 also saw the continuation of The Lord's Acre. That year, the tobacco paid for a new heating system and also a basement under the church. Twenty new pews were purchased from the 1954 crop, along with the floors being stained and waxed, and the Sunday School rooms painted. The tobacco money, along with a little help from the Women of the Church, was used to purchase a kitchen stove.
Sunday School enrollment for 1955 was at fifty-seven. Also, Pine ridge hosted a Sunday School Convention at the church on May 29. There were fourteen churches from in and around the Westfield township present for this convention.
Throughout 1955 and 1956, Pine Ridge had no pastor. The church situation was grim, and on April 29, 1956, a congregational meeting was held immediately after worship to cast a vote on the church staying a member of the Larger Parish. The majority voted to be removed from the Parish. The thinking was that this would make it easier for Pine Ridge to obtain a minister. It was not until 1957, though, that a minister was named. Rev. Gerald Reiff was called upon to minister Pine Ridge this year. But his stay here was quite brief, lasting only that one year.
The next year, 1958, Rev. Gaston Boyle took the reins of minister of Pine Ridge. He served until the middle of 1959 when Rev. Burris Bender accepted a call to minister the church. Rev. Bender served as pastor for about five years, up until 1964.
With so much time elapsing with no minister and the short stays of Rev. Reiff and Rev. Boyle, attendance and membership began to suffer. The total number of membes in 1958 was down to thirty-five people. But, with a long-term minister behind the pulpit, 1959 saw an increase in the church's enrollment. By the end of that year, membership was back up to a total of fifty-one people.
In the latter months of 1960, plans were being made for the church to purchase some land that was adjacent to the church. The intentions of the use of this land was for a cemetery and a road leading to the cemetary. Also planned was to use part of the land for a front parking lot. Then, on November 6, 1960, a congregational meeting was held and was voted on to indeed purchase the 9.33 acres of land. The was to be bought at a cost of $2,500 and was to be paid off in three years. Pledges were immediately made to help with the cost and a total of $665 was promised. More pledges were to be received later as well.
As previously stated, Rev. Bender left Pine Ridge in 1964. The next minister called to serve the church was Rev. W.O. Nelson. He ministered from 1965 to 1972. Although Pine Ridge was no longer in affiliation with the Pilot Mountain Larger Parish, they were still associated with two other churches. Hills Presbyterian Church and Pilot Mountain First Presbyterian Church were the two churches that shared a minister with Pine Ridge. On the fifth Sunday for the next few years, the three churches held a joint service, with communion being held each time.
In 1970, a special Easter Service was held at the First Presbyterian Church. Members from each of the three churches' choirs combined their voices to present a very special Easter Cantata. This kind of special service was also held at Thanksgiving and Christmas. These special Union Services seem to make the three churches more like one big family.
Also in 1970, the idea of raising a tobacco crop was once again decided upon. This time the proceeds went directly to the building fund in hopes of one day building a brand new house of worship. Mr. Bob Flippen donated his tobacco acreage and the members met in the evening to tend to the crop. The amount profited from this crop came out to be a little over $3,500.
In February of 1971, Hills Presbyterian Church decided to part with Pine Ridge Presbyterian and First Presbyterian of Pilot Mountain. Later the same year, a great honor was bestowed on the pastor of Pine Ridge. November 14 was designated ast W.O. Nelson Day by the Mayor of Pilot Mountain. A special service was held at the First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Henry Ridenhour as speaker. At the conclusion of the service, a check for $2,000 was presented to Rev. Nelson. This gift came from donations received from members of Pine Ridge, First Presbyterian and Hills Presbyterian.
Rev. Harry Thomas acted as a supply preacher from the time Rev. Nelson retired in 1972 until a new minister was called. Later that same year, Rev. Lester Sheppard was selected to pastor Pine Ridge. He would serve the church until 1984.
In 1973 the church decided to sell the 9+ acres of land it had purchased back in 1960. The land was sold at a price of $12,000 and this money went toward funds for the construction of the new church.
On April 22, 1974, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the beginning construction of the new church. By December of 1974, the new church was finished and worship service was being held in it. The old church was given to Robert Cook and was moved next to his residence just down the road. In order to obtain pews for the new church building, members "bought" them in honor or memory of friends and loved ones. The congregation decided to have one of the new pews installed in memory of the founder of Pine Ridge Presbyterian, Rev. George.
It wasn't until about a year later, November 23, 1975, that the new church was officially dedicated. A special service was held that Sunday morning by the Rev. Sheppard. Earlier in the year of 1975, Pine Ridge decided to borrow apporximately $10,000 to pay off the remaining debt owed on the new church building. Also decided in 1975 was the purchase of an acre of land from Mrs. Garnette Cooke. This additional land was used to enlarge the cemetery and was purchased for the sum of $800.
Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church had always been a small church. The Presbytery has always lent help to such churches by providing monetary aid to help relieve some of the burdens faced by smaller churches. But in 1975, Pine Ridge decided it was time to become a self-supporting church by declaring no need for financial aid from the Presbytery.
In 1976, the church had an attendance of seventy members, and fifty-three enrolled in Sunday School. It was also in this year that the wooden cross mounted on the wall behind the pulpit was donated. The cross was donated to Pine Ridge by its youth.
In 1978, a picnic shelter was constructed. It was built on land donated to the church by Junior Cooke. A few years later, in 1981, the church parking lot was paved.
January 31, 1984, marked the end of an era. On this date, Rev. Lester Sheppard retired as pastor of Pine Ridge Church. He served as minister for an amazing eleven and one-half years, longer than any other minister. The Rev. Tom Bagnal served as interim minister thoughout that summer. Different ministers filled in until Rev. John Talmage was called to minister in March of 1985.
Rev. Sheppard touched so many lives during his tenure as minister to Pine Ridge and First Presbyterian churches. He meant so much to som many people that Rev. Talmage deemed it appropriate to name him "Pastor Emeritus."
Later in that same year, Pine Ridge Presbyterian was incorporated. September 8, 1985, saw a big change in the government of the church. The Board of Deacons was disbanded. From then on, only Elders were responsible for church government. Members of this session rotated off every three years.
The year 1986 also saw a significant change in Pine Ridge church government. It was in this year that the first woman was elected to serve on the session of Elders. The same year, the sign in front of the church was erected.
Rev. Talmage's ministry with Pine Ridge was very brief. He resigned in 1987. A few months later, First Presbyterian church decided to break ties with Pine Ridge and call their own minister.
Pine Ridge went for nearly two years without a full-time minister. Several ministers filled in, most notably Rev. William Reisenweaver who interned during the summer of 1988. By this time, Hills Presbyterian had re-yoked with Pine Ridge.
Finally, in 1989, a minister was called to fill the two churches. Rev. J. William "Bill" Black became minister of Pine Ridge. In 1992, due to the increased number of children in the church, it was decided to enclose the picnic shelter, which would be used as a nursery. The dedication of the new "building" was held on June 14, 1992.
Rev. Bill Black resigned in 1992. Later that year, Rev. Jim Mauldin and Rev. Linda Blessing were called to co-pastor the church. During their tenure, the Blessing Club, an after-school program for youth was started. Linda and Jim served as ministers until 1996. The pulpit was filled with supply ministers until 1997, when Rev Erica Durham was called to serve.
One hundred years ago, this church was only a vision of one man passing through. Now Pine Ridge stands a s permanent fixture in this small, tight-knit community. From a small, one room log cabin to this illustrious house of worship, the church has seen many changes. But, through them all, one thing has held its ministry together, and that is the worshippers and followers of Jesus Christ. Without them, this church would not have stood one day, not to mention one century. May the ministry of Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church continue to thrive, both now and forever more, Amen.*
*The above collection of historical facts was compiled and arranged by Rodney Taylor for the family and friends of Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church and presented to them on Sunday, the twenty-sixth of September, nighteen hundred ninety-nine.
The Next Hundred Years:
Please check back for the church historical information which will be updated through 2010