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About Us

The establishing of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church spans over 118 years.  Laura W. Miller signed the documents to deed the church on November 26, 1886 according to records on file in the Madison County Court House.  Throughout the years  God provided the vision for Pilgrim Rest to each pastor placed over the  membership.  Pilgrim Rest has been under the leadership of Reverends Smith, Willie Jones, Z. M. Winder, Powell, Willie Johnson, W .L. Gipson, S. P. Johnson,  C. M. Jordan, R. H. Walls, J. C. Simmons, W. D. Harris, B. N. Steverson, Curtis Gilbert, Freddie Short and Matthew Canada (April, 1994 to present).  Pilgrim Rest experienced it’s Ground Breaking Ceremony for its new church facility in August, 1995 at 852A Madison Avenue, Madison, Mississippi.  The Education and Activity Center was completed and the ribbon cutting ceremony was held in August, 2004.  Truly God has smiled on the Pilgrim Rest Family.  We realize that we are still serving on the foundation laid by our founders and are thankful to God for all the blessings bestowed on us.  We will continue to stress the word of Jesus as He spoke to Peter. ​ “Upon this rock I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Matthew 16:18

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Historical Highlights

Explore our rich heritage and journey through time with our Historical Highlights page. From our humble beginnings in 1886 to the vibrant present, discover key milestones, memorable moments, and the remarkable stories that have shaped our church's legacy. Join us in celebrating our past as we look forward to a bright future together.

The Beginning

November 26, 1886

Documents signed by Laura W. Miller to deed the church; Deeded as trustees were Stephen Ridley, Carradine Anderson and Wesley Perry; structure of one large room, 2 classes of Sunday School- 1 for adults and 1 for children, baptism occurred 1 time a year, members paid 25 cents a month.

1930’s – 1950’s:

Pastors - Rev. J. C. Simmons, Sr (1936), rev. W. D. Harris , rev. B. N. Steverson (installed October 1959); first cornerstone laid June 28, 1936; services/activities: Tuesday night teachers meeting, Wednesday night prayer meeting, Thursday night choir rehearsal, Sunday evening Baptist Young People’s union (BYPU) meeting; first march of roses program presented on the fourth Sunday, march 1959 (continues to be observed)

1960’s – 1980’s

Rev. B. N. Steverson continues as pastor until 1985 leading pilgrim rest in tremendous growth for 26 years (1959-1985); second cornerstone laid may 14, 1967; renovations & improvements to church structure - additional rooms added, baptism pool constructed, new pews installed, kitchen and fellowship area renovated, new piano purchased, central air conditioning installed; pastor’s study added; increased spiritual growth resulted in additional Sunday School classes, additional choirs, junior deacons being organized, junior and senior usher boards being established, beautification, education, program, food, Vacation Bible School, youth coordinators, matrons league committees being organized; rev. Curtis w. Gilbert installed as pastor September 1985 (served until October 1993); church transitioned to full-time worship services - 4 Sundays monthly; land purchased with intentions of building a state of the art church facility under rev. Gilbert’s leadership (current church sanctuary facility)

1994 – to Present

Pastor Matthew L. Canada (called to pastorate April 1994, officially installed June 1994); august 1995 ground-breaking for new church sanctuary facility; May 17, 1997 dedicatory walk from old facility on main street to new facility here on Madison Avenue; October 11, 1998 third cornerstone laid; June 23, 2002 mortgage burning on new church sanctuary facility; March 2, 2003 ground-breaking for education and activity center; August 21, 2004 ribbon-cutting ceremony upon completion of the education and activity center (EAC); 3 vans and 2 mini buses purchased; technological advancements with purchases of computer systems, phone systems and audio visual equipment; purchase of new musical equipment including keyboards and drums; increased office staff; new payroll and accounting system; approximately 7.5 acres land purchased to date intended for building larger worshiping complex; church motto and mission statement established, Sunday School lesson presented on WMGO radio 1340am; membership increased to 600+; 16 deacons ordained; 10 added to Motherboard; 17 Ministers licensed; additional worship service began May 2, 2004 (8:00 a.m. worship); added 5th Sundays to schedule of regular worship services (previously dedicated to united Sunday School formed with other community churches); May 5, 2013 moved worship services to Education and Activity Center due to increased growth in membership and attendance; School Liaison, College Outreach, Family, Laymen, Nurses Guild, Recreation, Transportation, Hospitality, Christian Education, Children/Youth, After School, Summer And Deacon Family Ministries established; Pilgrim Rest House established to help the disadvantaged (overseen by the Women’s Ministry); Minister Of Music appointed; affiliations increased as a result of past and present positions held by Pastor Canada-President of Madison County Ministerial Alliance, Moderator of the Madison County Baptist Association, Executive Secretary General Missionary Baptist State Convention, Southwest Regional Director of NBC, USA, Inc.-Moderator Auxiliary; began “Capital Campaign” February 2, 2014 to build larger worshiping facility, Pastor Canada appointed to serve on national platform as President Of Moderators Auxiliary National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (January, 2015), construction of an Additional parking lot to accommodate increased attendance completed October 2017, Minister Of Christian Education appointed in 2017, 2 new staff positions added-Director of Children and Youth and Director Of Public Relations in 2019 to maintain continuity in each of these areas March 15, 2020, final service of in-house worship due to the Coronavirus Pandemic; virtual services on various platforms from zoom and conference calls to Facebook live and YouTube were implemented so the mission and ministry of the church would continue; March 22, 2020, first Facebook live worship broadcast; September 2020 sliding doors installed at each entrance for safety and convenience. Officially resumed in-person worship on March 20, 2022. To date, November 5, 2023, both in-person worship and virtual services are available. Thereby the Ministry of Pilgrim Rest continues.

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