Johnson City Press Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Community

Long history: Church has deep roots in area

September 23rd, 2011 9:33 pm by Madison Mathews

PINEY FLATS — What began as Bertha King Memorial Church more than 100 years ago has served as the home of many churches during the last century.
The beginnings of the church — which is now known as Rocky Springs Missionary Baptist Church — date back to the late 1880s when Nathan Gregg, a colonel in the Confederate army, and his wife, Catherine Morrell Gregg, donated their entire estate in order to build a church and a school across from one another in the Rocky Springs community. The church was established in 1906.
It was constructed in memory of the Greggs’ great-niece, Bertha King, the oldest daughter of E.W. King and his wife, Alice.
Bertha King Memorial began as a Presbyterian church, and has changed its name throughout the years as many different denominations and church families have worshipped within its walls.
Despite sitting dormant for a short period of time in the 1960s, the church has remained active ever since it became Rocky Springs Missionary Baptist in the mid-1970s, according to Pastor Greg Lovelace.
While Rocky Springs has never had large numbers, Lovelace said the church has had steady membership during its time at the location.
That’s quite the feat, according to Lovelace, who believes the church’s long history has a lot to do with the strong faith of the people who have called it their home.
“I’ve heard people come in that just say they feel the spirit of God when they come in. It’s a special place. It’s a special place to preach in,” he said.
Lovelace has been pastor of the church for about six years.
Another special aspect of being at Rocky Springs is its history.
For a church building that is 105 years old, it still looks much like it did when it was first built, save for renovations to the church’s interior.
While the classrooms beyond the sanctuary were added on much later, the church still has its original flooring, roof, stained-glass windows and brick, according to Lovelace.
During the church’s beginnings when it was a Presbyterian church, Lovelace said the congregation was so large, many people who attended weren’t even able to sit in a pew.
“They used to have to raise the windows for people who would stand outside it was so full, and that’s just beyond my comprehension,” he said.
The congregation of Rocky Springs is made up of about 30 people, which Lovelace enjoys, although he does want to see the church grow.
“It’s a good feeling that you can get to know your whole congregation instead of like at a super church where there’s no way you can know everybody,” he said. “It’s a good church, and we want to grow like these other churches.”
Lovelace said it’s important to keep the church alive because of its ties to the Rocky Springs community.
“I think it’s a very important part of the community, because it’s so old and so many people either went here or they know about Rocky Springs,” he said.
The church is located at 3297 Rocky Springs Road.
For more information, call Lovelace at 431-8037.

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