Quilt to tell story of Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church


Do you want to be a part of Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church’s 100th anniversary?

Here is a sampling of events:

Saturday: Centennial forum and ribbon cutting of the 100 Years Exhibit

11 a.m.

1879 Glenwood Ave.

March 16: Reflections of 101 Boulevard

3 p.m. Worship Service at former Grove location now City on a Hill Community Church

March 30: Music and Arts Ministry Centennial Concert

4 p.m. Free

1879 Glenwood Ave.

June 14: Centennial Outdoor Gospel Jazz Concert

(tickets for tables and seats (cost to be determined), some free area available at the church campus

1879 Glenwood Ave.

For more information go to: Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church



Miranda Mack McKenzie gently touches the yellow fabric cut from one of her late mom’s favorite Sunday church suits.

It holds special meaning for McKenzie, who bought the suit for her mother, Jewel Mack.

She wore the suit — with shoes and a hat to match — the last Mother’s Day before she died in 1988.

“She was one of those fashionable ladies who loved looking good from head to toe on Sundays,” McKenzie said.

That strip of memories will soon be part of a permanent fixture at the Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church in Atlanta. The quilting project was started as part of the church’s yearlong centennial celebration.

Over the past few weeks, dozens of women, mostly the “mothers” of the church, have met to measure, cut, sew, pray and swap stories.

When finished, the 10-foot-by-10-foot quilt will be displayed in the new church, which is being built next to the current sanctuary on Glenwood Avenue.

Quilting supplies and more than 200 yards of fabric were donated by members, then cut into more than 1,800 squares. Two longtime quilters were asked to help instruct volunteers on quilting.

Some pieces were new. Others held sentimental value. There’s one member’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority pink and green T-shirt. The golden praying hands cut from a purple choir robe of a beloved church member are also there.

The centerpiece will contain photos of the five senior pastors who have led the church since its founding — from the Rev. N.J. Jenkins to the Rev. William E. Flippin Sr.

Each time she goes to Sunday services, McKenzie and others will be filled with memories.

“I had almost forgotten that we still had that suit,” said McKenzie, area development director for the UNCF (United Negro College Fund). “This is a great way for me to feel a closer connection to her and to relive memories.”

The church, sometimes known as “The Grove” by its members, had its beginnings in 1914 as Piney Grove Baptist Church in a former three-room home with a big potbelly stove in the middle of a room turned sanctuary on Bell Street.

McKenzie’s family has been members for about 90 years, following the church when it moved to Boulevard and then to Glenwood.

Before the quilting started, said Valerie Henderson, project manager, some members only knew one another in passing or by name because there are three services each Sunday. Young and old have volunteered to work on the quilt.

“The mothers of the church have shared stories about how quilting used to be done,” Henderson said. “I’ve learned a lot.”

Longtime member and retiree Shirley Slay of Covington said her mother used to make quilts, which were suspended from the ceiling and rolled down when it was time to work on the patches. “It’s been relaxing, and we’ve really bonded.”

She said the leftover fabric will be used to make quilts for the church’s homebound members.

Sewing the quilt and the bonding are symbolic of the history of the 100 years of Greater Piney Grove, said Flippin, who has pastored the 5,000-plus-member church since 1990. He said the church also has compiled a list of about 70 members who have been with the church 50 years or longer.

“As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, we saw the quilting project as a way of weaving all of the five generations of members together to highlight our rich history and legacy as a church,” said Flippin, whose wife donated a handkerchief that he uses when preaching. The wife also included a handkerchief of her mother’s (a pastor’s wife in Nashville, Tenn.) that is about 40 years old.

McKenzie added: “It symbolizes our past, present and future.”