White Oak Grove Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery, is located at 615 White Oak Grove Road, Riner, VA 24149. Founded 1845, rebuilt 1889 and renovated 2001.
This church is in Floyd County, on State Route 617, one mile from Route 8, on the Floyd end of Rt. 617. The church was founded in 1845 as an arm of Meadow Creek Church in Montgomery County. In 1847, the Presbytery declared it independent and appointed a pastor, deacons and elders and received members. On July 10, 1847, the following people became the first 21 members of the constituted church. Elder Owen Sumner, Pastoral care of the church; Jacob Bishop, Deacon; Jacob Mangus, Deacon; Thomas W. Simmons, Deacon and licensed to preach; Hulen Lester; Charles S. Lester; Abraham Showalter; Jacob Correll; Elizabeth Mangus; Catherine Thompson; Hannah Bishop; Elizabeth Roop; Tamar Simmons; Sarah Sumner; Sarah Showalter; Rebecca Lester; Elizabeth Roop; Nancy Bowlin; Luanna Booth; Mark Barker and Lucy C. Hall.
In the church records for 1865, it states, “On April 8th of that year, no church services could be held because the countryside was over run with troops.”
The following pastors and elders served the church: Elder Owen Sumner, 1845-1870; Elder A. Dickerson, 1870-1908; Elder P. G. Lester, 1908-1918; Elder L. A. Cummings, 1915-1925; Elder J. M. Dickerson, 1925-1946; Elder J. Wesley Epperly, 1946-1962; Elder Horace Walker, 1962-1968; Elder Mason Bolt, 1968-1996; and Elder Berlon Kemp, Assistant Pastor, 1990-1993.
In 1966, Percola E. Thompson, widow of Posey Grover Thompson, willed her entire estate to be placed in a trust for the upkeep of the church. Meetings were discontinued in 1996, with only two ladies who were the last remaining members of the church, Mrs. June S. Earles and Mrs. Ava Sumner. They could not maintain the church alone, and decided to sell the church and surrounding yard. When the news got out, the neighbors got together and signed a petition (32 names) asking that they be allowed to form the White Oak Grove Community Church and continue the historic church known as White Oak Grove in the present location. A new board of trustees was formed by the Circuit Court of Floyd County. The new trustees requested funds from the trust fund and proceeded to renovate and restore the church. A well was drilled, septic tank installed, restrooms added, vinyl siding and handicap ramps. Also, a heating system and ceiling fans were added.
The adjoining cemetery has approximately 150 graves.
On April 1, 2001, service was held for the first time as Blessed Hope Baptist Church, who rented the church and is still having services today.
Note: Information for this article was compiled from a history of the church written in 2001.