According to historical facts, African American pioneers broke their ties with the Providence Baptist Church of the Kelly Settlement Community in 1864. Providence Baptist Church was a white congregation that nurtured their African American members who later felt an unction from God to worship and fellowship on their own. Some of the key members making this decision were listed as Green Grant, Oquilla Keys, Susan Kelly, Warren Kelly, Julia McLaurin, Jerry Mott, Harry Watts, and Polk Watts.
Three deacons from Providence Baptist Church and several of the black members held an organizational meeting which led to the first church service with eight members, two deacons, a clerk, and several other community people. Their trust and belief in the Lord and an increase in membership soon required the church to move from a log cabin to a larger structure for worshipping and praising the Lord. During the initial inception and growth of this small church the first pastors to be called were Rev. I. B. Travis, Rev. R. W. Jones, Rev. Luke McInnis, and Rev. J. J. Jordan.
In 1917, Shady Grove Baptist Church was in need of a pastor. During this period, one of the deacons, Bro. George Dahmer, heard the Rev. R. W. Woullard, Sr. preach. He was so impressed that he invited Rev. Woullard to preach for his congregation which ultimately led to him being called as the next pastor of Shady Grove Baptist Church, where he served for more than forty years. Several other pastors served this growing congregation until August 1969 when the shepherd’s rod was passed to Rev. R. W. Woullard, Jr. under whose leadership the membership more than doubled. Rev. Woullard served as pastor of Shady Grove until his death in January 2005. Moving forward to find a new pastor, the deacons of Shady Grove met with Rev. Reginald Woullard, Sr., the youngest son of Rev. R. W. Woullard, Jr. and grandson of Rev. R. W. Woullard, Sr. and offered him the position as pastor. After an overwhelming church-wide vote, he accepted the offer and preached his first sermon as pastor on February 20, 2005.
God is using Pastor Woullard to carry Shady Grove to the next level. His vision for the church is already being realized through the addition of several new ministries, a Youth Bible Study, the webcast of both church services each Sunday, a band, an additional choir for children, and two new church vans. Both the 8:00 a.m. worship service and the 11:00 a.m. worship service have shown astonishing growth. A closed-circuit TV has been added to accommodate the overflowing attendance. In the two years under Pastor Woullard’s leadership, our membership has more than doubled and our finances are showing exponential growth. Additional staff and services have been added to handle the phenomenal expansion of our congregation under Pastor Woullard’s leadership. God has blessed us abundantly in both the numerical and financial realms.
…to whom much is given, much is required. Shady Grove Baptist Church, under the guidance of God and Pastor Woullard, is striving daily to meet the challenges of an ever-increasing and diverse congregation. As part of our building plan, we will move to win many souls for Christ and to continue our role in the community as a purpose-driven and a Spirit-driven church. Our building plan isn’t just about physical structures, but more importantly, it’s about empowering people with the capacity to become disciples for Christ and to carry out the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
Heeding the call of God to step out on faith, in 2013, under the outstanding leadership of Pastor Reginald Woullard, the Shady Grove Baptist Church family embarked on the divine task of building the Dr. R. W. Woullard, Jr. Family Life Center. The new Family Life Center, which can seat 1000 people, will add much needed space for worship and other programs. This new facility includes a coffee shop, book store, a nursery, as well as a fully functional gymnasium. It will be used to host concerts, conferences, religious dramas, sports activities, weddings, receptions, and much more.
The construction of this Life Center is the first phase of a three-part comprehensive expansion effort by the SGBC family. Upon completion of all three phases of the building program, there will be new office space for the church staff, a larger sanctuary, and many other amenities that will help us to reach out into the community and share the love of God in many different ways.
Through the Dr. R. W. Woullard, Jr. Family Life Center, we hope to offer enjoyable activities, acceptance, grace, and love to each person who walks through the doors. We will transcend cultural, racial, ethnic, and gender lines as we offer a common life in Jesus Christ for all. As was Dr. Woullard’s dream, we hope to reach others outside the church as we faithfully proclaim and live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today we stand in the Dr. R. W. Woullard, Jr. Family Life Center as a testament to his legacy.