How We Began and then Began Again
In 1936 a core group of Greenvillians from a thriving mill village gathered to form what was then Friendship Baptist Church. These worshippers of Jesus gathered in a small storefront on Poinsett Highway and eventually built the building we meet in today directly across the street from that storefront. They then called themselves Victory Baptist Church.
Though Jesus has always been faithful, there were some battles along the journey. From one of those battles, the church got it’s current name.
David Griggs was a faithful member of the church for many years and a beloved music leader. After his sudden passing, the grieving church voted to name all of it’s future ministry in his honor, thus renaming the church for the final time Griggs Memorial.
The church carries on that spirit of love for our brothers and sisters, particularly those walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Griggs Memorial is all about Jesus and Jesus is all about people. Thus, Griggs is all about people, even during the toughest battles.
By God’s grace, the church was given a loving and helpful shepherd in the early 2000’s. Pastor Ed Yoemans was a faithful gospel preacher who was incredibly kind and always happy. One of his great joys was helping college-aged men and women serve Jesus and His church. In the years of 2008-2010 I, Mitch Miller, was one of those college students. That’s when I became a part of Griggs.
Pastor Yoemans let me and my friends get a chance to lead music, preach the gospel, hold events, and learn first hand what it meant to be the church. We had the time of our lives piling into the church van on Sunday nights, heading over to Poinsett, and running the Sunday evening service.
As many of us graduated and moved away, Pastor Yoemans, in his 80’s, fell sick and, by doctor's orders, was no longer able to preach. Around this same time, others in the church had gotten sick, moved away, or were otherwise unable to be present with the body. To some it may have looked like Jesus' church itself was dying. But when will Jesus be done with his church? The answer is never.
After five years of doing youth ministry in two different churches, I received a call late one Sunday evening from the only remaining deacon at Griggs. I remembered my time at the church fondly and had wondered from time to time how they were doing.
I was told about the situation and asked to come help, which I gladly did. After a few Sundays of helping out, the Holy Spirit through his word, fellow pastors, and my wife made it clear to me that I was to pursue ministry at Griggs in any capacity whether that meant just being a faithful member or becoming the pastor.
After transitioning out of my youth pastor job and taking a tutoring job over the summer, I was glad to help lead Griggs through this time of transition by preaching and filling in. Pastor Yoemans went home to be with Jesus, and I was voted in as Pastor in the fall of 2015. As the new pastor, I found myself motivated, inspired and filled with a passion from the Holy Spirit to revitalize the church and reach the neighborhood around our church, Poe Mill.
Revitalization is “the action of imbuing something with new life and vitality.” It’s not starting something new, like a church plant. It’s taking something existing and starting anew. That’s what we did, and that’s what Jesus has been doing for us.
Jesus has given us a new energy, new leaders, new members, and a renewed passion for evangelism.
Upon becoming the pastor in the fall of 2015, there were only 5 official members of Griggs, 1 deacon and about 15-20 attendees, some of which were friends I had recently asked to help us. That and Jesus is, however, all we needed.
We began to work hard. We knocked on every door, sat on nearly every porch and invited everyone we could to dinner about once a month (and still do! come on out!). Now, roughly two years later we have seen the Lord do what only he can do - start to rebuild his church.
In the last two years, we have added many members, baptized nearly 20 people, dedicated 5 babies to the Lord, added 4 new deacons, and as of the fall of 2017 we often see more than 100 people in attendance on Sunday morning.
We have served multiple dinners to the community, held our first VBS in years, and have begun an annual Fall Family Fun Night for our community. During the Christmas season of 2017 we were also blessed to have a church choir assembled. The Lord has also blessed us with friends and supporters outside of Griggs, like Palmetto Baptist Church in Powdersville who had a few of their members volunteer to come help us out at Griggs.
Our building, having stood on Poinsett for 5 decades, needed some updates as well. We’ve started to work on these things with the help of our members and even some friends of the church. We refurbished the floors in the sanctuary, carpeted and painted much of the downstairs, tiled the floors of the lobby, put new furniture in the kid's ministry rooms, and we got a new sign which was much needed.