History of the Gardner Grove Missionary Baptist Church


The passing of time brings many changes.  Without change there can be no growth.  Looking back over a period of our Church History, we recall that a determined and far-sighted group of Christians assembled themselves together one day in an organized effort to strengthen and expand the work of the church.  Organized by Brother Simons and Sister Nancy Gardner, this meeting marked the beginning of our church.  It was comprised of members whose lives were dedicated to GOD and humanity.  Since that day, their vision for spreading the gospel has been blessed by GOD, and we have climbed upward to victory by way of the cross.

The first pastor was the Reverend Ned Williams.  Under his leadership, four members were added to the church:  Brother John, Sister Mattie Mitchell, Brother William Foster, and Brother March Hopkins.

Organized in 1894, we are told that one of the first hymns sung was “Hymn #65 THE DAY IS PAST AND GONE, THE EVENING SHADES APPEAR (S.M.).”  Encouraged to press on in the service of the Lord, they found it necessary to erect a building for worship.  The seeds of desire planted in the hearts of God’s people took root one day and sprang up because the seed was sewn with genuine love for each other.  From a tiny acorn the mighty oak of today has grown.  The Lord has blessed this church and brought forth an abundance of fruit.  Plans for expanding the church were made.  Our first deacons were Dea. Marion Toy Sr. and Dea. John Clements.

Ordained Deacons

Dea. Leroy Balentine

Dea. James Barnwell

Dea. Mark Barnwell

Dea. Roscoe Barnwell

Dea. Leroy Carter

Dea. Louis Carter, Sr.

Dea. Louis Carter, Jr.

Dea. Edward Clegg

Dea. John Clements

Dea. John Crawford

Dea. Arthur Evans

Dea. K. C. Evans

Dea. Marion Frails

Dea. William Funn

Dea. James Odell

Dea. Vincent Petersen

Dea. James Russ

Dea. Tim Sanders

Dea. Louis Terry

Dea. S. T. Thompkins

Dea. Marion Toy, Sr.

Dea. Dandy Walker

Dea. Freddie White

During the past One Hundred Nineteen years the church has licensed Fourteen ministers: Dea. Stewart T. Thompkins, Bro. Willie Jackson, Bro. Prather Carter, Bro. Issac Barnwell, Bro. Mark Gibson Sr., Dea. Mark Barnwell, Bro. Jeffery Quinn, Sis. Doris Garnett and Bro. Leddure Bauman. And Dea. James Russ. Sis. Debra Cooper. Bro. Phillip Gibson. Dea. Vincent Petersen, & Dea. Thomas Stokes

The church has also ordained eight of the thirteen: Rev. S. T. Thompkins, Rev. Willie Jackson, Rev. Issac Barnwell, and Rev. Mark Barnwell, Rev. Mark Gibson Sr. and Rev. Sis. Doris Garnett, Rev. Leddure Bauman, & Rev. James Russ.

Treasures to serve Gardner Grove Baptist Church
Dea. Leroy Carter
Dea. James Barnwell
Dea. Dandy Walker (currently serving)

Secretaries to serve Gardner Grove Baptist Church
Sis. Louise Knox
Bro. Marion Toy, Jr.
Sis. Barbara A. Thompkins


First Pastor
Reverend Ned Williams
Served faithfully for two years until he was called from labor to reward.

Second Pastor
Reverend C. H. Gardner
Was called in 1912. Under his leadership, the first church was erected however it was destroyed by a storm. Reverend Gardner then offered his resignation.

Third Pastor
Reverend Seymore
Began leading the flock in 1920. He baptized many, received many by Gospel Experience, and helped many by his works, deeds, and actions, until he too was called to his reward.

Fourth Pastor
Reverend Alex Smith
Reverend Alex Smith was called after serving for one year. During his leadership, a new church was built; after which he resigned.

Fifth Pastor
Reverend S. K. King
Reverend S. K. King was called in 1927. He served for five years before offering his resignation.

Sixth Pastor
Reverend S. L. Sapp
Reverend Sapp was called in 1932. In April 1951, Bro. Leroy Carter, Bro. John Crawford, and Bro. Tim Sanders were ordained deacons. Later, Bro. Edward Clegg was ordained. Reverend Sapp remained with us for twenty-three years, until he was called from labor to reward.

Seventh Pastor
Reverend W. M. Freeman
In 1955, Reverend W. M. Freeman was called. During his administration, the outside of the church was completed. In 1965, he was stricken with illness and Reverend Collie Gardnerhire served for four months until Reverend Freeman returned. Reverend Freeman served faithfully for eleven years until his death.

Eighth Pastor
Reverend Willie Parks
In 1967, Reverend Parks answered his call (after serving for eleven months). During his time as pastor, four Deacons were ordained, two Ministers were ordained, the Deaconess Ministry was organized, and Vacation Bible School began. In 1968, the GGBC Young Adult Choir was organized to sing on the 4th Sundays. They later renamed themselves, the W. H. Parks Gospel Chorus in honor of Pastor Willie H. Parks. August 10, 1969, Dea. James Barnwell was ordained to the Deacons Ministry. Dea. Stewart T. Thompkins was licensed to the Gospel Ministry in August of 1970, and was ordained in October of 1970. In 1977, Bro. Lasker Watson came on board as musician for the W. H. Parks Gospel Choir. Bro. Willie J. Jackson was licensed to the Gospel Ministry on May 13, 1979, and was ordained in November of the same year. Bro. Prather Carter was also licensed to the ministry. August 24, 1980, Bro. Leroy Balentine, Jr. and Bro. Marion Frails were ordained to the Deacons Ministry. March 28, 1982, Bro. K. C. Evans was ordained to the Deacons Ministry. Reverend Parks served faithfully for nineteen years.

Ninth Pastor
Reverend Dr. Rufus Copeland
Rev. Dr. Rufus Copeland was called to pastor Gardner Grove in February 1986 and continues to serve as pastor.