The Way the Church Began in Pearl River
By Sister Judy Penton
What is now Pine Grove UPC started in a most unique way. Judy Penton, an elder in our church tells it like this…
"A man named Ollie Penton had a drinking problem. His wife Barbara heard a holiness preacher on the radio and sent for a prayer cloth for him. After some time of the prayer cloth being in his pillow case without him knowing, Ollie listened to a Baptist preacher on the radio one morning. God got hold of his heart and he started crying. A song by the name of “Detour Ahead” got to him. Ollie and Barbara heard about Brother Wallace Kennedy preaching a revival in Nicholson, Mississippi and they started to attend. Aunt Bessie went to their house one day after they attended church the night before and they began to tell her about the revival and Brother Ollie began to explain to her the Oneness of the Godhead. God opened her understanding and that night and she and her mother, Hattie Bennett, went to the revival. They both went to the altar that night. Bessie had to persuade her mother to go. They went two or three nights to Nicholson and the revival closed there, moving on to Ozona, Mississippi. During that week, on a Sunday morning, Bessie and Hattie were baptized in Jesus Name by Brother Kennedy. One week from the night Bessie first went, she received the Holy Ghost at home. She was the first one to receive the Holy Ghost. During the time of the revivals in Mississippi, there was a trinity preacher by the name of Sam Swaggert, who put a tent on Spur 41 and started a meeting. Three weeks from the night Hattie went to the altar in Nicholson, she received the Holy Ghost at the tent meeting. The tent meeting closed, but the revivals were still going on in Mississippi. The services had moved to Whitesand, Mississippi in a building called the Upper Room. Uncle Claude Bennett received the Holy Ghost on November 21, 1949. About two weeks later, his daughter, Tillie, received it. Then a young man named Gene Mahon received the Holy Ghost. We don’t know which meeting Barbara and Ollie received the Holy Ghost in.
When the Brush Arbor was being built, Uncle Claude was working full time and Brother Ollie was working part time. Claude put up the money and Ollie did the work. He built the pulpit and made benches and strung lights. The arbor was in front of his house in the triangle. They had met Bro. Otha Seals from Ozona and he started coming for Wednesday night prayer meeting after the arbor was built in September 1950. They had a Brother O’Neil come first, but didn’t have any results. Bro. Otho told Uncle Claude and Bro. Ollie to see if they could get Bro. Kennedy to come for a revival. They asked but he told them if he came on his own nothing would happen, but if God sent him they would have revival. He told them to go home and fast and pray. They did and God sent Bro. Kennedy to Pearl River along with revival. Between 90 and 100 people received the Holy Ghost. With the Kennedy’s came a little man by the name of Chris Glick.
When it got too cold to have services in the Arbor, the revival services moved to Earl Singletary’s house, next to his store, across from Lock No. 1 Road. Bro. Kennedy stayed three months until the church house was built in 1951.
When the church was completed, Bro. Otha Seals became the first pastor. He was the pastor for three or four years. He resigned and moved to Bogalusa to start a church on Short Street.
Bro. Alvin Taylor became the pastor and was there for about a year before he resigned. While the church was without a pastor, the building burned.
Services started being held in Uncle Claude’s house but because Aunt Rena was sick, the church services were moved to Leslie and Ruby Crawford’s home. During this time, there was a conference held at Bill & Sissy Jordan’s house.
Bro. Burrel Seals was one of the preachers that came to the house services. He was then elected to be the pastor the latter part of February 1955."
List of Pastors:
Brush Arbor: Wallace Kennedy
5th Wallace Kennedy