A retirement celebration is planned to honor those more than five decades of service. Members of Pine Grove Baptist and the community will celebrate Bolton’s benchmarks during the month of April. The celebration will be capped with a 53rd anniversary/retirement banquet.
The banquet will be held at 5 p.m. April 17 at the Odena Baptist Church Life Center on Odena Road.
The body of Bolton’s work can be shown through his numerous accomplishments and activities. It can also be seen in the bricks and mortar of the church he has helped build and the awards he received.
But perhaps the best testament to the work Bolton has done can be found in the words of his congregation:
“I am grateful and a better man for having you in my life as a youth. You are a blessed man of God and it has been an honor to have you as a pastor, to me and my family, these years. It’s your time to enjoy this season of your life.” said Edward Nix
Bolton split his time as pastor at Mt. Cleveland Baptist Church in Talladega and Pine Grove Baptist from 1957 until 1982. Since 1982 he has served as full-time pastor at Pine Grove Baptist.
Members of Bolton’s church spoke about a constant message of love from their pastor. Bolton said that love was important in good and, especially, difficult times
“We have enjoyed the 53 years together,” Bolton said. “Of course every now and then, in any congregation, there might be something that comes up where differences might arise. But we have always handled the differences and we all stayed friends and loved each other.”
“We just want to say thank you. Thank you for shared experiences, wisdom and knowledge. I often share with others the nuggets you have given me. I thank you for the many prayers you have prayed for my family. You are truly a man of God possessing all of the fruit of the spirit. We love you,” said church members Roger and Carmen Burns, and family
Bolton has overseen much growth at Pine Grove Baptist. In the last 20 years, the church has built a new sanctuary, bought a bus and van, installed a new roof on the church and Fellowship Hall and purchased the old National Singing building in Odena for renovation.
The church has planned to name the building “The S.C. Bolton Community Center” after renovation is complete.
Bolton has been honored by many organizations for his service. He has received keys to the city in both Talladega and Anniston, was appointed district commander of the Choccolocco Council of Boy Scouts of America and was named a lifetime honoree by the Martin Luther King Child Development Center.
On Jan. 31 he was presented the Humanitarian Award by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Anniston and Calhoun County chapter. Pine Grove Baptist named him their honorary “Pastor for Life” in 2009.
“The joy of celebrating over a half century of divine labor and loyalty at one location merits a just reward. Enjoy your day and may God bless,” said Deacon and Sister Lionel Player
Bolton said he had “just about” told his congregation everything he wanted them to know. He also said he had a lot of fun and laughs with them.
“I guess I was about middle ways into the 53 years, maybe my fortieth year,” he said. “I told them, ‘Let me tell you something. People of my generation, they always looked for their pastor to be a little-bitty God.’”
“And I said, ‘I don’t mind living that life, of a little-bitty God, providing if my members that I have to preach to will be little-bitty angels!’”
“Thank you for all the years you have put up with me. You tolerated my lateness and absence with patience and kindness and you encouraged me to do better. Your kind words, guidance, help and, most of all, love that you have shown me will be with me forever. Thank you and I love you,” said Sister Patricia Garrett
Bolton is originally from Atlanta, Ga. There he received his degree in systemic theology from The Carver Institute. He also received his bachelor of theology from Selma University Baptist Seminary.
He was married for 66 years to Marion Christian Bolton and they had 14 children together. Bolton has become a grandfather, a great-grandfather and a great-great-grandfather since then. He now resides in Anniston.
Bolton said, after his more than five decade career with the church, he was satisfied to let his record speak for itself.
“I’m sort of the kind of guy who lets time count for you and your background,” Bolton said. “I have served that congregation 53 years and my background is as clean now as it was when I began. So I’m happy with that.”