Pine Level, Opp, keeps traditions of faith going

Pastor Dewey Elmore stands in front of the sign pointing passersby to Pine Level Baptist Church. The church has a small but faithful congregation of families who have attended the church for generations.
Photo by Cindy Elmore Gast

Pine Level, Opp, keeps traditions of faith going

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

It’s possible that parts of the one-room church building were made from some trees busted up on the land. It’s got that primitive quality to it, according to James Preachers, director of missions for Sardis Baptist Association.

“They do have gas heat and an air conditioner,” he said of Pine Level Baptist, Opp, a church that’s been around for more than 130 years. “But they want to keep it like Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa.”

For pastor Dewey Elmore, that’s the part that makes it great.

“As far as I know, they never had a split or a bust-up,” he said. “Basically, the same families through the years have been associated with it, and they’re good people — easy to preach to.”

Elmore’s own family has connections to the church too — his brother, James, served as pastor there years ago. But that’s not what drew Elmore to the pastorate back in 2000.

Pine Level Baptist hadn’t had a pastor in a while, and a man in one of those original families confessed to Elmore he hadn’t been to church in quite some time either.

“He said he’d come back to church if I came down there and preached, so I did, and I’ve been preaching ever since,” Elmore said.

The man who extended the invitation kept his end of the bargain too, and even though he’s since passed on, his son attends church at Pine Level Baptist now.

“There aren’t many of us, probably eight or 10 on a Sunday morning, sometimes more,” Elmore said.

But for a long time, they’ve been a mainstay of the community. For years, even after she moved away to Pensacola, one church member drove back on Sundays. And on the last weekend of July every year, they have homecoming and kick off a weeklong revival.

They’ll do that again this year on July 26.

“It’s just a part of who we are,” Elmore said. “It’s a great group of people here.”