“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” – Matthew 28:19
This great commission was the seed that was planted in the hearts and minds of a small group of people in Una, Tennessee 130 years ago. From this spiritual conception came the birth of Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
Watson Grove Baptist Church was organized and built in Una, Tennessee in 1889. The name Watson Grove was selected by the Baptist worshippers of this congregation in honor of one of its members, Mrs. N. Watson. She realized the desire and need of her fellow members for a place to worship and offered a lot for a building site. Due to the racial barriers of that time there was some opposition to the church being located on that particular site and another site was selected. As a token of appreciation for Mrs. Watson’s generosity and commitment, the church was named Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
We have no written record of who was the first pastor of our church, but from all the information gathered, it was the Rev. Neal Crutcher. He served the congregation for several years, prayerfully admonishing them to keep the faith.
For sixty-eight years, Watson Grove worshiped in Una. With every season of change that life in the South brought them to, their faith in God saw them through. From the era of Reconstruction, to the Great Depression, to World Wars I & II, to the injustice of Jim Crow, to the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, Watson Grove persevered. God used several pastors to usher Watson Grove through these strategic years of growth and development: Rev. Bailey Mainer, Rev. Hillary Jordan, Rev. Fitzhugh, Rev. Bell, Rev. S.A. Alexander, Rev. Monroe McCord, Rev. Charles Hodge, and Rev. Charles Vanleer. Very little detailed information is known concerning these years. However, the survival of this little church in Una reveals the strength of their trust in the greatness of God.
Through the efforts of its supporters, Watson Grove became aware of its need to relocate, and the present site was suggested as a possible choice. Soon negotiations began, and the property was obtained in the spring of 1956.
The official ground-breaking ceremony was held on September 4, 1956, seven months later on Sunday, April 14, 1957; the hopes and dreams of Watson Grove became a reality. The congregation, led by Rev J. T. Easley, marched from Mt. Sinai to the present location. A host of friends and supporters joined us in the march on that glorious occasion.
Rev. Easley served this church for 10 years. During this period, much was accomplished. Our membership increased dramatically from 65 members to over 200 in a very short time.
In the spring of 1963, Rev. Easley was called to pastor the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church. Knowing our needs, God guided us to call Rev. Marion Myers, a product of the American Baptist College, from Ecorse Michigan, to the pastorate of our church.
The achievements of Watson Grove during this administration were numerous and are as follows: organized soul winning campaigns, concentrated program of Christian Education and Church Training, noted increase in membership, a spiritual enhancement, and upgraded organizational structure, a centralized financial system, a new awareness of church ethics, church pride, stewardship and discipline.
The most profound accomplishment of Watson Grove during the tenure of Rev. Myers were the retirement of our mortgage on the church with a generous contribution from the late Rev. W.L. Hicks; purchased the adjoining properties for the education wing; liquidation of all indebtedness, and the establishment of a building fund which was carried over into the new administration.
In 1973, Rev. Myers was called to the pastorate of Morning View Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. On October 11, 1973, after serving as an interim pastor, Rev. Curtis W. Goodwin, a native of Columbus, Georgia, was called to the pastorate of Watson Grove.
Relying upon Divine guidance, Rev. Goodwin continued leading the church on the road to spiritual growth and progress. Inspired by the pastoral leadership of Rev. Goodwin, Watson Grove continued to press forward to higher heights with a weekly radio ministry, mid-week Bible study encompassing fellowship dinners, periodic study courses, scheduled institutes/workshops, a multi-purpose bus ministry, and the children’s hour.
During April 1982, the groundbreaking ceremony was held for the educational wing of Watson Grove. The architects of this project were Christian Builders Inc.
On August 7, 1988, under the administration of Rev. Goodwin, we dedicated the educational wing which houses several classrooms, a fellowship hall, nursery, kitchen, printing room, office complex, storage space, and additional restrooms, which were furnished by dedicated individual members of the church.
The church continued to expand with Building Fund Program and the construction of a new church. On Sunday, March 7, 2004 the ground breaking ceremony to rebuild the grove were had. In September of 2004, construction began. On Sunday, February 24, 2008, the membership of Watson Grove humbly and proudly entered into its fourth sanctuary of worship. Dedicatory services for the new sanctuary were held March 2-9, 2008.
Watson Grove was truly blessed to have the visionary Rev. Curtis W. Goodwin, as the Pastor, as well as his lovely wife Bernice, and their sons Curtis Jr., Corey, and Chris as part of our church family for 37 years. We were enriched by their concern for the welfare of the community and commitment to the up building of God’s kingdom. On August 19, 2011, Rev. Curtis W. Goodwin was called home for his eternal rest.
February 1, 2012 marked a new era of leadership at Watson Grove as the church elected a new pastor: Rev. John R. Faison, Sr. Pastor Faison began leading this flock on March 4, 2012 under the vision of being “A GROWING church for GROWING people whom Christ will use in GROWING His Kingdom.” The acronym GROWING represents our seven core values: God-centric, Relationship, Outreach, Word of God, Integrity, Nurturing, and Generosity.
Under Pastor Faison’s leadership, God is using The Grove to impact the city of Nashville and beyond with tremendous effectiveness. Since his arrival in March 2012, the congregation has experienced unprecedented spiritual growth, multiplying from 300 to over 2400 members. That growth has coincided with fiscal and physical expansion. Through God’s grace, we are a multi-faceted congregation that ministers to five generations every week. Pastor Faison has led the completion of several physical, logistical and technological upgrades, as well as the hiring of additional staff, in order to minister to this growing congregation. Additionally, several innovative ministry initiatives have launched and powerfully impacted the community, making Pastor Faison and The Grove a “go-to” resource for a city seeking to respond to its own unprecedented growth. Furthermore, The Grove has also become nationally known for its work and witness in such initiatives as fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community, disaster relief responses throughout the nation, partnership with community organizations for activism and advocacy, and the development of millennial leadership in the Black Church, among many others.
In 2018, God gave Pastor Faison the vision for expanding The Grove to become a multisite church in order to share Christ and community beyond Nashville. After prayerful planning and preparation, The Grove launched our second campus in January 2019 in Franklin, TN, known as The Grove – Franklin. This campus is growing and bringing our community-connected ministry model to Williamson County and surrounding areas.
With God’s grace, Watson Grove is poised to write the next chapter of our Kingdom story in a way that will continue to impact the community, the city, and the culture for the glory of God.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!