Reverend Douglas Whitfield, or "Preacher Doug" as he is known by church and community members, will be retiring from 25 years as pastor of Pine Grove Baptist Church on Sunday.
"It’s been a good 25 years, too … I’ve seen a whole generation grow up in this church, get married and have children … That’s the nice part, seeing them grow up and become leaders," said Whitfield.
In October of 1987, Whitfield became the pastor of Pine Grove Baptist Church. Matthew and Amanda, Whitfield’s children, were 13 and 10 when the Whitfields moved to Lugoff to serve at Pine Grove Baptist. Before coming to Lugoff, Whitfield was the pastor of Tuxedo First Baptist Church in North Carolina for eight and a half years.
"The pulpit committee called and asked if I would consider it (coming to Pine Grove Baptist Church). I felt that that is what the Lord would have me to do," said Whitfield.
Pine Grove Baptist Church has a 143-year history beginning in 1869 as a brush arbor. The church established its first building in 1872 and, in 1906, it joined the Kershaw Baptist Association under Pastor C.D. Peterson.
Whitfield was the 30th pastor of Pine Grove Baptist Church. He’s seen many changes in the community and the church during his time at Pine Grove Baptist. He’s also seen the growth of the congregation from approximately 200 to 400 members during his time as pastor.
"God has taught me patience. I wanted to see things take place a lot faster than they did … By being patient, we’ve seen some good things," said Whitfield.
One was the completion of Pine Grove Baptist Church’s new worship chapel. The sanctuary was dedicated in 2006 on Easter morning while the church’s old sanctuary was converted into an education center for Sunday School classes.
"We had to be patient to see this building come up," said Whitfield about the newest building that is now debt free.
Whitfield credits two things for his two-decade ministry at Pine Grove Baptist Church -- his wife Janice, and Pine Grove Baptist’s congregation.
"I’m sure I couldn’t do all this without her," said Whitfield of his wife.
Concerning the church, Whitfield refers to the familial atmosphere among church members.
"This is a loving and caring church, a lot like family. We’ve been through a lot of good things and sad things together … Some of my pastor friends have asked how I could stay at a church for 25 years. Well, the pastor has a personality and the church has a personality. In this case, our personalities just clicked," said Whitfield.
Whitfield is grateful to God for his time at Pine Grove Baptist.
"The Lord’s really been good to us. We’ve been in ministry for 40 years and the Lord has allowed us to be here for 25 years," said Whitfield.
Whitfield’s favorite passage of scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6. It states that God will guide those who acknowledge and trust Him.
"He’s been faithful to do just that for me and my family," said Whitfield.
Now that Whitfield is retiring, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, especially his grandchildren.
"For a while I want to do very little… I’d like to vacation" said Whitfield, smiling.
Despite his upcoming retirement, Whitfield plans to stay engaged in his community as he will still be living in Lugoff.
"I tell people that I am not retiring from the Lord, just from pastoring," said Whitfield.
A celebration of service will be held for Pastor Whitfield by church members Sunday, at 10:30 a.m. It will be held at Pine Grove Baptist Church, located at 836 Pine Grove Road, Lugoff and a dinner will follow the service. The public is invited to attend.