Pope Drive Baptist Church was established November 7, 1948, having begun in the heart of Rev. George L. Roberson. It was jointly sponsored by Garner Memorial and Orrville Baptist Churches. Services were first held in the Sullivan-King Mortuary. We were admitted into the Saluda Baptist Association in 1949.
Property was purchased on Pope Drive and became the place of worship with a tent and chairs loaned by the mortuary. There were thirty-one charter members. On the second Sunday of June in 1949, the first service was held in the incomplete sanctuary, which is now the present chapel. Rev. Roberson had mortgaged his home to pay for rafters and shingles. In 1954, the mortgage was burned and this unit dedicated to the glory of God. An educational section was completed in 1955. As the church outgrew its first sanctuary, a third unit, including a temporary sanctuary, was built and then occupied in 1956. On December 3, 1961, groundbreaking exercises were held for our present sanctuary. Worship began in this sanctuary in November 1962.
In 1979, a $5000,000 addition program was begun. The church purchased three houses, one of which is the church office on Jackson Square. An additional parking lot was secured on Jackson Square. Later the two houses on Pope Drive were sold and the land retained for future growth. In 1984, a AVictory Through Sacrifice@ program was put in motion and the twenty-year loan balance of approximately $480,000 was retired in two years. During this time, through special gifts, we were able to install stained glass windows, new carpet, and padded pews in our sanctuary.
In 1984, a new sound system for the sanctuary was installed. In 1988, a three manual organ and a grand piano were purchased. In 1989 and 1990, renovations were completed on our educational facilities and upgrades were made to our chapel, and church office. New chandeliers were also installed in the sanctuary and chapel. All this was done through special donations to our Renovation Fund.
In 1988, the church voted to assist Garner Memorial Baptist Church in supporting a mission church in Anderson. Our commitment to give a total of $15,000 over a two and one-half year period was met in a little over one year. We were able to contribute an additional $15,000 through an anonymous gift of a member.
In 2002, through sacrificial giving of our members, our sanctuary was renovated again, and in 2003, we purchased a house on Pope Drive. The house was moved and the lot will be used for additional parking as needed.
Pope Drive Baptist has always been a mission-minded church and over the years we have sent many members out on short-term missions and a few as Southern Baptist Missionaries through the Southern Baptist Convention. We have sent people to the far corners of the world through our mission efforts. We also have always given generously to the Cooperative Program as well as the Saluda Baptist Association and local mission organizations.
Pope Drive Baptist has endeavored to be a light in the community that we are situated in by having various outreaches and programs for adults and children. VBS is always a success, held each year in the summertime, reaching many children in the community. Currently our AWANA program, under the direction of Ray Pruitt, is reaching many in the area through the bus ministry that brings children to church each Wednesday night. Also, led by Ray, is our participation in Good News Clubs through Whitehall Elementary School. Many of our members give of their time each week working with the AWANA children and going to Whitehall to teach the children about Jesus.
Over the years we have had an active youth ministry led my many fine young men. Currently our youth program is growing and sowing into the lives of many young people under the direction of R.J. Smith. R.J. is also establishing at this time a thriving college ministry here at the church. Our youth have gone on a few spiritual retreats and have had workdays at the church to help the church out. PDBC is touching the children and youth in our community in a positive way with the message of Jesus Christ by these various programs.
In the Fall of 2010, Pastor Mack Tester established Pope Drive as a home base for Covington Theological Seminary. The Seminary has touched hundreds of men and women, many earning their degrees in ministry through this program. This has been a blessing to the community and to Pope Drive.
The church is currently under the leadership of Matthew Danuser who came to us in April 2015. Matt has a heart to teach the Word of God to his flock and to disciple people in the Word.
Beginning with George L. Roberson, 11/7/48 – 2/1/68 many men have served faithfully as Senior Pastor at our church they are: Horace Benjamin, 9/1/68 – 6/6/71; Dan Stamann – 7/12/72 – 4/82; Kelly Burris, 6/26/83 – 9/88; Rodney Minor, 11/19/89 – 6/25/94; Stephen Dickey, 7/9/95 – 1/7/01; Kenneth Wright, 7/15/01 – 3/5/06 as Pastor, prior to that Ken served as Minister to Music/Associate Pastor beginning in August of 1984; Mack Tester, 9/23/07 – 10/29/14; Matthew Danuser, 4/15/15 – current.
We have also been blessed to have had many Godly men fill the pulpit during interim times and wonderful Music Ministers as well.