China Grove celebrates

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Concord China Grove Homecoming is set for 11 a.m. Sunday at the Concord Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery at China Grove.

“The Concord China Grove Homecoming is a historic event in that it dates back to the 1930s and beyond. How much further back, we’re not sure,” said Marsha Boutwell, an organizer of the event. “It’s probably one of the longest running homecomings anywhere around.”

Concord Primitive Baptist Church sits proudly among the oaks at China Grove and is testimony to the faith of those who settled in the China Grove area around 1821.

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“China Grove was the first seat of justice in Pike County and there was more than likely some type of organized religious service in China Grove at that time,” Boutwell said.

“Homecomings have been held at Concord China Grove for more years than any of us know and we are dedicated to keeping the traditional alive.”

Boutwell said this year’s homecoming will be special in the sense that the John Henry Jackson family will have its reunion there also on Sunday.

“We should have a large crowd at the Concord China Grove Homecoming and everyone with any connection to China Grove or the church is invited to attend,” she said. “People will start to arrive around 11 a.m. with their favorite dishes to share and we’ll eat around noon there on the grounds of the church. After dinner, there will be a short business meeting and then we’ll sit in lawn chairs out under the oaks and reminisce.”

Boutwell said the Concord China Grove Homecoming is historically held the third Sunday in August and for a reason.

“Back years ago when most people lived on farms, August was the month when the crops were laid-by and there was not as much work to do on the farm,” she said. “Of course, there was time to chop firewood, build stack poles and clean the cemeteries. So, with the cemeteries cleaned, that was a good time to have homecomings at the churches.”

Over the course of many years, the membership of primitive Baptist churches began to dwindle so there were fewer people to maintain the cemeteries.

“Those of us who attend the Concord China Grove Homecoming have taken on the responsibility of maintaining the Concord Cemetery and it’s a rather expensive undertaking,” Boutwell said. “Even if you have a little money in a trust fund for the upkeep of the cemetery, there’s little to no interest on the money so it’s getting harder to get the funds we need to maintain the cemetery. So, hopefully, we’ll have a good crowd at the homecoming and we’ll be able to get up a little money for the upkeep of this old, old cemetery.”

Boutwell said anyone with connections to China Grove or the Concord Primitive Baptist Church is invited to homecoming on Sunday.

“It will be a time of remembering the good ol’ days and it will be a good day,” Boutwell said.