Pleasant Grove celebrates 126 years

Churches have been a part of Black communities for over a century. One such church is Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, which is referred to as “the Oasis in the Woods.” On Sunday, members of Pleasant Grove celebrated the church’s 126th anniversary. The guest speaker was Bishop Larry Leonard, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church in Winnfield. He began by saying that there is power in the name for those who know Jesus, and we, as a people, forget soon what folks say, but we must not forget about the word of God. Leonard said that the apostle Paul did not forget about God, even when he was locked up, but “some of us, even though we are not locked up, if we have just a little illness, we won’t praise God,” he said. He said that Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. “The Lord forgave Paul, who was running around talking about the church, turned him around, and made him an apostle. I am what I am, not because of who I say I am, but because of whose I am,” said Leonard. Then he quoted a popular song, “Can’t nobody do me like Jesus. He picked me up, turned me around, and placed my feet on solid ground.” He said, “You don’t have to be in a white building or wait five or six years after you die to become a saint. I got some ‘ain’ts’ in my life, but I’m still a saint.” Leonard said that it’s good to be in the church because God has redeemed us, adopted us, saved us, and predestinated us. “He has blessed us, accepted us, and chose us. Notice all of these are in the past tense. Before we got here, the Lord had already made the choice,” said Leonard. Leonard said that a spiritual adoption is not like an earthly one. “You can adopt a child and the child might not take on your nature or name. When God adopts you, he does more than give you his name,” he said. “It is good to be in the church because we have been privileged, positioned, purged, placed, and given power. Don’t you know there is somebody on your job ten times better than you. You are there because you are privileged,” he said. He said that being purged means that we have been redeemed through the Word. “It’s called efficacy. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus,” said Leonard. He explained that there is a difference between being positioned and being placed: the position is our heavenly standing, and the placement is our earthly standing. As it relates to privileges, Leonard said that all people who have accepted Christ have the same ones. “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the kingdom. If you’ve been in the church for 35 years and somebody just got saved early this morning, you have the same privileges,” he said. Leonard ended his message by saying, “Paul said be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Stay with the church.” Johnnie Bradford, who has attended the church all of her life (80 years), said the anniversary went well. Bradford served as the program chairperson. Deacon Adam Collins, Sunday school superintendent and church secretary/clerk said the anniversary was outstanding. He said that he likes the church because it is a small, country, and tight church. He said, “When I first visited this church I liked the openness and warmth of the members.” “We’re all here only through grace, not because we’ve done anything, but because God has chosen us. It’s not about anything that I have done or chosen to do, but what God has chosen,” said Collins. Sapp said of his church’s anniversary, “I tell my members that we are not put on earth to see through one another, but to see one another through. After 126 years, we’ve made it this far through the grace of God.”