Located deep in the heart of Mississippi is a quaint little town with an estimated population of 288 people, almost no crime, and where people never lock their doors. Welcome to Sebastopol, a great little town in which to raise a family. Nestled away in Sebastopol is Pine Grove Pentecostal Church, where you will find people just like you who have gathered to seek God’s will and purpose in their lives. “The world is shaking, but there is a sure and a safe place,” said Bro. Mark Copeland, pastor of Pine Grove Pentecostal Church. “Jesus is the rock that can take the shock.”
Pine Grove Pentecostal Church and its members offer an exciting and multi-cultural experience for all ages, races and life status. “Our church harbors an Apostolic environment where lives are changed forever,” said Bro. Copeland. “Sis. Copeland and I, along with the church family of Pine Grove Pentecostal Church, invite you to come and experience the power of God in your life. You will be blessed by inspirational sermons, powerful praise, and unconditional love from our congregation. Our church offers a vast number of ministries, groups and activities that will surely fit your family and allow God to fill your life with purpose.”
A Ministerial Heritage
Bro. Copeland was installed as pastor of PGPC in May of 1998. Prior to taking the church in Sebastopol, he evangelized for approximately eight years. For the last 16 years, along with his wife, Melanie, and children, Savannah and Olivia, Bro. Copeland has led Pine Grove Pentecostal Church into unprecedented, ground-breaking revival. Looking back, he said he is living the life he envisioned as a young man. He grew up in Vidor, Texas, where he was raised in the church and received the Holy Ghost at nine years of age. “I started feeling my call to preach at around 12 years old,” said Bro. Copeland. “Actually, I always knew that I would be a preacher. Some of my earliest thoughts, as just a toddler, were about preaching. There was never a question in my mind, and I knew that I would never do anything else. Three uncles who were preachers had the greatest influence on my ministry. They were Steve McMullen, who now pastors in Evadale, Texas; Wayne Cardwell, who pastored in DeQuincy, Louisiana; and Tim Copeland, who pastors in Buford, Georgia.”
Balance is defined as “a state in which different things have an equal or proper amount of importance,” and Bro. Copeland believes that the greatest key to having a growing church is balance. “God blesses order,” he said. “When something is out of order . . . it can hinder God from blessing the whole. Man is made up of spirit, soul and body, and these three areas must be kept equally sanctified. An example of this is that a church that is strong in outreach must also be strong in prayer and in holiness. Consequently, if a church focuses too much on the aspects of outreach, to the neglect of relationship with God or separation from the world, there will be a loss of anointing on the whole. Their outreach becomes just busy work without God’s endorsement. I teach our church that a balanced life brings the validation of God to empower and to make all that we do most effective. We do Bible studies, bus ministry and door knocking. Really, we do all of it. But balance is the key to getting God to bless what we do.”
PGPC utilizes a variety of outreach ministries and methods, but the one that has worked best, according to Bro. Copeland, has been casting a vision for personal evangelism. “While we have used and will continue to use probably every evangelism technique that Pentecost has to offer,” said Bro. Copeland, “the most effective tool for getting people on the pews still remains personal one-on-one evangelism.”
A Place for Ministry
Around 80 percent of the PGPC congregation is actively involved in some form of ministry and has caught the vision of Bro. Copeland. “Our congregation has a revelation that the joy and fulfillment in their living for God, as well as their blessings, come from actively working in the Kingdom of God,” he said. “We are able to do so much and have been able to expand quickly, because a corporate revelation of giving has taken root in our church. Not in finances only but also giving of their time and energy. This synergy creates an exciting atmosphere that is very creative and extremely productive.”
Organization is important at PGPC and helps everyone to operate in a productive manner. “We have annual planning meetings at the first of the year with our leaders,” said Bro. Copeland, “and our department heads meet with their departments pretty much on a monthly basis. The volunteer staff has verbal job descriptions, and all full-time paid staff has written job descriptions.” With a variety of ministries and departments, there is a place for everyone to plug in and become a part of this wonderful congregation.
Mighty Move of God
Pine Grove Pentecostal Church has had numerous miracles take place, according to the pastor. “We have a book in our foyer where people can record their personal miracles as well as a place where framed doctors’ reports are displayed that state that people were diagnosed and then the diagnosis had to be reversed,” said Bro. Copeland. “Some of these miracles include healings from lupus, hepatitis C, sugar diabetes, thyroid cancer, Lymphoma cancer, epilepsy, a brain tumor and a host of other situations and ailments.
“Bro. Allan Graham, who received the Holy Ghost in our church after around 40 years of being a drug addict, was instantly delivered of numerous addictions. It was found out later that prior to receiving the Holy Ghost he had contacted hepatitis C from a dirty needle. His liver was already very sick. The church prayed for him, and he was miraculously healed! He went back for further tests. They could not find hepatitis C. We have a doctor’s report in our foyer where the doctor states that Allan Graham did in fact have hepatitis C and now there is no trace of it in his body.
“Then there is Gail Goss who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer on two occasions. On the second occasion, she told the doctor that she had been prayed for and was healed. The doctor became indignant and told her that she absolutely had cancer of the thyroid, and it was going to have to be removed. After further testing, he had to admit to her that there was no sign of cancer in her thyroid.
“And there is a man in our church named John (J.T.) Herrington who had epileptic seizures for many years. He could not work or drive. The seizures, at times, came every few minutes. He had become totally disabled. We prayed for him, and he was instantly healed. He has never had a seizure since and is now owner and operator of Herrington Construction Incorporated.”
A Look Back and Forward
Pine Grove Pentecostal Church was started in 1923 on the front porch of a farmhouse. It was on that front porch of the Davidson home that the oneness of God was first preached in that rural area. “This one God message sparked a revival that moved to a brush arbor in the front yard,” explained Bro. Copeland. “Bro. Massey, a man from California, came preaching Jesus’ name baptism, one God, and the evidence of speaking in other tongues as a result of receiving the Holy Ghost. Soon, the land was donated that is still the location of the current facilities. And, in the ‘30s, an old white shiplap building was taken down by the members and moved to the current location and rebuilt.”
In 1974, a brick building was erected that would accommodate 100 worshipers and also included Sunday school classes and a small evangelist quarters. In 1996, a small gym and fellowship hall were erected. “Our first service at Pine Grove Pentecostal Church was May 3, 1998,” said Bro. Copeland. “There were approximately 30 people in attendance on that first Sunday. We outgrew the brick building in 2001 and began having church in the gym. The old brick building became a school. In 2003, we built a 400-seat auditorium that we quickly outgrew, and in 2008 began constructing our current facility — a 1,000-seat auditorium — which was completed in 2011. Our 400-seat auditorium was converted to a commercial kitchen and dining hall, and we are now completing a new gym.
“Our future plans are for a children’s home called Hope’s House, and we are in the beginning stages of this effort now.”
Pine Grove Pentecostal Church began with about 30 people in attendance in 1998, and now, with daughter works included, is running around 500. “Something unique about our situation,” said the pastor, “is that all of this growth is taking place in a town with a population of less than 300 people.”
A Lighthouse of Truth
Because the world can “beat people up,” all that are reached must be healed, said Bro. Copeland. God uses the church to facilitate that healing process, and the saints must serve one another as they serve Christ. “Pine Grove Pentecostal Church is able to meet the needs of you and your family,” said Bro. Copeland. “It is our desire that our church will be a lighthouse to the world, a service to the community, and a life-changing experience for everyone.”