Eskridge Grove Missionary Baptist Church was founded in the year 1890 by a group of concerned people who organized a Sunday School and held prayer meeting in an old school house on Brushy Creek. The founders were Starlin Wilson and wife Carolina, Mitchell McCombs, Julious and Betty Eskridge, Mommon and Rachel Wilson, Sally Irvin, Jack Beam, George Poston, Stanton Long, Jack Wellman, George Blanton and Jack Grier.
When Starlin Wilson's wife died, he went to Mr. Streeter Harrill and asked for a place to bury her. The burial plot that was given was on the other side of the railroad track; however, Mr. Harrill consented to give a plot where the present cemetery is located and where the present church now stands.
Betty Eskridge, a former slave of the Harrills, married Julious Eskridge. The church was named for Betty and Julious Eskridge. They had one child, Bessie Catherine Eskridge. In 1907 Bessie married Jerry Camp and to this union three children were born: Rosa Mae, Everett King, and Willis Marion Camp.
In the year 1893, the first frame church was built on what is now the present cemetery. The lumber came from another church in the community, which was being rebuilt. Rev. Berry Bridges served three years as pastor. Preaching was held every first Sunday. The second pastor was Rev. Fox, who served for three years; followed by Rev. C. Moore, who served two years. Other pastors included Rev. W.A. Roberts, two years; Rev. S. Ellis, one year; Rev King, four years Rev. Kary, one year. Twenty years later in 1913, another church was constructed on the same site. This church was built under the leadership Rev. P. F. Malord, who served for three years as pastor. Mr. Cicero McCombs was the contractor and he gave his labor free. This was also a plank church, but larger than the previous one. About twenty years later the pulpit area was enlarged, a pastor's study was added, a dining area and a baptismal pool were constructed on the outside of the church.
Additional pastors who served were Rev. H.D. Sandiou, one year; Rev. E.L. Williams, two years; Rev. G.F. Gingles, one year; Rev. P.C. Young, ten years; and Rev. A.M. Means, a very dynamic speaker and leader, nine years. Under Rev. Mean's leadership the church began to move at a rapid pace. Electric lights were put in the church. The pulpit was enlarged, a pastor's study was added, a dining area was added and a baptismal pool was constructed in the church. Preaching was held on the first and third Sundays with both morning and night services. A communion set was also purchased. Some of the deacon's that served during these years were: Mr. S.A. Poston, Mr. L.J. Jordan, Mr. O. McFee, Mr. John Toliver, Mr. George Blanton, Mr. W.M. Logan, Mr. Albert Blair and Mr. Jack Milline.
Our next pastor to serve was Rev. E.A. Stewart, who served for three years. Deacons who served under him were: Mr. S.M. Davis, Mr. Shadrach H. Barrow, Mr. Eli Glover, Mr. A.W. Milline and Mr. W.T. Bostic.
In 1938, Rev. T.C. Sanders was called as pastor. Under his leadership the church progressed nicely. The church was remodeled and a half basement was added. Deacons serving in addition to the deacons mentioned under the previous pastor were: Mr. J.H. Burson, Mr. Major McCombs, Mr. Sammie Jackson, Mr. Vick Wilson and Mr. Roy Jordan.
The present brick structure was completed in 1950 under the leadership of the Reverend J.C. Mitchell. The building program started with a "nest egg" of $5,000.00, with much free labor being given by members and friends. The walls and basement of the church were finished before the "nest egg" was gone. It was through the influence of Willis Marion Camp, who worked for the Dover's, that the church was finished. Mr. Charles I. Dover took over the financing of the building program, which was completed at better than $90,000.00. Deacons serving under Rev. Mitchell were: Mr. S.M. Davis, Mr. J.H. Burson, Mr. Clarence Brantley, Mr. Major McCombs, Mr. Roy Jordan, Mr. Walter Cabiness, Mr. James Davis, Mr. Ambrose Scott, Mr. Willis Camp, Mr. Bennie Glover, Mr. Mitchell Terrill, Mr. Richard Glover and Mr. L.C. Lee.
In 1956, the church started having service each Sunday. Continued improvements have taken place since then: painting, new pews and pulpit furniture, a new organ, a new furnace, carpeting, a steeple added to the building, chairs for the Sunday School, tables for the dining hall, new kitchen facilities, air conditioning for the church, and the building of a six-room parsonage which is located near the church. These improvements and accomplishments were under the leadership of Reverend F. R. Giles. Rev. Giles served as pastor for 19 years and 10 months.
In May 1977, Rev. Kenneth Scarlett was elected as pastor and under his leadership four men were put on trial for deacons. They were: Mr. Johnny Pettis, Mr. James Jordan, Mr. Franklin Barrow, and Mr. Robert Parrish. Rev Scarlett served one year.
In 1978, Rev. J.C. Robinson was elected as pastor. Under his leadership the previously mentioned men were ordained as deacons. Mr. J.B. Hoey, Mr. Larry Fuller, Mr. Dean Brantley, Mr. John L. Hardy and Mr. Johnny Hoey were appointed as Junior Deacons. Rev. Robinson served three years. Rev. P. B. Barnette came to us as Interim Pastor. Under his leadership the Laymen's League was organized.
Rev. C. D. Montgomery became pastor in September 1982. Rev. Montgomery, his wife Renee, and son Charles were with us until December 1997. Under Rev. Montgomery's leadership the church added new members. Sunday night services, new member orientation classes, training union, children's sermonette, youth training, and tithing were initiated or revived under his leadership. Also during Rev. Montgomery's tenure, a countywide medical seminar was conducted, annual musical workshops were held, thirty-six acres of land and a van were purchased, and numerous improvements were made to the interior and exterior of the church. Also, the current church Constitution was developed and implemented during the Montgomery tenure.
With the adoption of the Constitution, the word "Missionary" was added to the name of the church, making it Eskridge Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
After Rev. Montgomery was called to another pastorate, many guest speakers graced our sanctuary. Rev. Benjamin Frye served as Interim Pastor from April 5, 1998 until February 14, 1999.
Rev. Ricardo L. Brown became pastor April 11, 1999 and remained with us until March 26, 2000. Somewhat untraditional, under his leadership the church began to fellowship in a variety of ways with each other and with other churches. Fellowship activities included cultural activities for our children [trip to see Harlem Boys Choir] and adults [weekend trip to Atlanta to hear Spellman/Morehouse College Choir concert]. Other fellowship activities included a carnival for the children, an adult member's basketball game, and a softball game between members of Eskridge Grove and neighboring church, Double Springs Baptist Church.
During Rev. Brown's tenure, church membership increased and bible study was emphasized. Day and evening bible studies were held. New deacons were added to the board: Sister Sadie Huntley, Sister Madge Wray, Brother Charles Jamerson and Sister Kathy Scott.
After Rev. Brown's departure, Eskridge Grove was blessed with many guest speakers in addition to two interim pastors. Rev. James Brunson served as Interim Pastor from September 3, 2000 until November 26, 2000, and Rev. Strickland Maddox served as Interim Pastor from December 3, 2000 until January 6, 2002.
On January 27, 2002 Rev. Strickland Maddox and wife Rhonda became the Pastor and First Lady of Eskridge Grove Baptist Church. The Maddox's ministry emphasized coming to know and accept Jesus Christ as personal savior.
During their tenure, God blessed us with increased membership. During the first ten years, approximately 70 new members joined or reunited with the church.
Early in his ministry, Pastor Maddox purchased a set of drums and placed them beside the piano, even though we had no one who could play them. As God would have it, included in the 70 new/returning members were our first two drummers, siblings Sharetta and Damion Key. Also during the first ten years, a bass guitar and a trumpet were added to the music ministry.
Several Associate ministers served our church during this time. Among them were Brother Thomas Burson, Sister Ada Powell, Evangelist Lois Lowe Colquiet, Sister Sherry Key, Minister Magra "Kitty" Lee, Brother Maurice Lewis, and Sister Kwanya Lewis.
Pastor Maddox worked closely with each auxiliary of the church, and continuously tried to maintain an atmosphere of harmony and love. The church adopted the motto "We are a church pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
A jail ministry, Girls in Action (GA's), and church council were organized under the leadership of Pastor Maddox. In addition to much involvement with local mission work, the church adopted two foreign missions to support: Samaritans Purse Shoebox Ministry and an Orphanage and Medical Center in the Republic of Benin, Africa. The church made major renovations and improvements to both the interior and exterior. In addition to electronic equipment (laptop computer and overhead projector), a new Hammond Organ was purchased in May 2008. In March 2008, Eskridge Grove entered the Cyber world, launching the first church website www.egmbc.org, with Brother Darrell Brantley serving as the first webmaster. Shortly after a Facebook page was added.
A Thanksgiving fellowship service with sister churches, Palmer Grove Baptist Church, Dover Baptist Church, and Zion Baptist Church, began in November of 2007. Each year the Thanksgiving fellowship is held at one of the four churches.
New trustees were installed under Pastor Maddox's leadership and a new deacon, Brother Earl Fuller, Jr. was installed. In August 2008 the late Deacon Clarence Brantley, Deacon Willis (Bill) Camp, and Deacon Richard Glover were awarded the status of Deacon Emeritus.
In September of 2015, Eskridge Grove celebrated her 125th Anniversary. Sister Laura Jamerson, Anniversary Committee Chair, and many of our members planned a weekend of events to celebrate and honor our legacy. These events included a history reading, a banquet, a souvenir booklet, and a special Sunday Service.
In November of 2015, Eskridge Grove implemented Givelify, a new online giving system. It gives members an option to give using their debit or credit cards.
On November 6, 2016, four new trustees were installed. They were Brothers Julius Bell, Randy Clark, Deshaud Key, and Lonnie Shumate. On November 13, our First Lady, Rhonda Maddox, presented her initial sermon and received her license to preach.
By mid-year 2017, as road construction around the church made it unsafe to park, enter, and exit the grounds, we began worshipping at Graham Elementary School on Sunday mornings.
On August 7, 2017, the church purchased a 15-acre tract of land, approximately one mile south of the current church, that will be used for building a new sanctuary. Also in August of 2017, Brother Lee Allen was ordained as a deacon.
On September 11, 2017, the 36-acre tract of land, purchased during Rev. Montgomery's tenure, was sold to a local manufacturing plant.
At the beginning of January 2018, we officially launched the third building program in the history of Eskridge Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Various committees were formed to plan the interior, exterior, and financial details of the new church building. A pledge campaign was implemented and all members, including children, were asked to give. The Church selected Brother Fulvio Brooks to serve as Chairman of the Building Committee.
We continue to seek God's will throughout this building process and we ask for your patience and faith in the work that the Lord is doing for Eskridge Grove.
More to come….