By Georgianne Stinnett
OHNA Newsletter, Spring 2003
It hasn’t always been on the South West corner of Albemarle and Pine Streets. In 1849 it was moved from a private home to a small brick chapel at the intersection of Church and Rowe Streets, near the space now filled by the Virginia War Memorial. It grew. In 1871 it landed in a new and larger space, on the Southwest corner of Pine and Spring Streets. It continued to grow. Pastor J.B. Hutson drew plans to save several hundred dollars in architect’s fees, and in 1888 the main sanctuary in its current location was formally opened for worship. What is it?
“A steadfast fellowship of grace,” replied Rev. Philip Turner, Pastor of Pine Street Baptist Church , when asked to describe the mission of this church. And community mission work has been the emphasis of this congregation since its inception. In addition to worship services, baptisms, weddings, and funerals for its congregants, Pine Street Baptist has a long history of offering aid to the neighborhood according to the needs of the times. Immediately after the Civil War, for example, the Church taxed male members fifty cents per month to help care for widows. The Sunday school, the largest in the South in 1905, provided lessons in literacy as well as the Bible. The influenza epidemic of 1918 prompted members to use the church kitchen to prepare food for delivery to the sick in the pastor’s car.
Ministering to both the spiritual and social needs of the community continues today under the leadership of Rev. Turner, who heads the Church, and his wife, Rev. Jennifer Turner, who heads the Oregon Hill Baptist Center. The two organizations are inextricably linked in providing services to the community. The Turners feel called to work for an urban church where, notes Jennifer, “there is a diversity of ministry opportunities for a lot of social and spiritual needs.”
Pine Street Baptist Church offers a variety of programs to answer these needs. Sunday mornings include sunday school and worship service. One Sunday night a month, the church hosts a casual service in the social hall called Sunday Night Alive. Tuesday afternoons are devoted to programs for children of the neighborhood with tutoring, computer training, bible study, and assistance with passing Virginia standards of learning. Wednesday nights include the Church Dinner, bible study, prayer, youth group, and choir practice.
The Oregon Hill Baptist Center, located in the building immediately south of the Church, also helps neighborhood residents who may need help. It opens a community food pantry on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 to 12 noon and provides emergency relief for rent or utilities. On the first and third Thursdays, the Center serves dinner to senior adults.
Pine Street Baptist also collaborates with other organizations and churches. The CARITAS program periodically uses the Church and volunteers to provide temporary refuge for Richmond’s homeless who seek shelter. The Jonah House also provides university student volunteers who assist with programs such as tutoring.
When asked about the future of Pine Street Baptist, Philip noted that the dynamic change that Oregon Hill is experiencing may affect the offerings of the church. He said that Pine Street Baptist has “made a commitment to stay a city church” and not flee to the suburbs the way that some other churches have done.
All are welcome and are encouraged to attend Church or visit the Center. Please call 644-0339 or stop by the church office for more information.