The First Baptist Church of Pine has grown from the original small sanctuary and baptistery.
The white church sits on the east side of the Beeline Highway as it winds its way through Pine. Its quaint appearance draws in locals, part-time residents and even summer campers.
Pastor Mike Ward admits that it also draws couples who have dreamed about being married in a little white chapel. The church is a community church. While couples who are not parishioners can certainly be married in the white chapel, Ward is quick to add that the church is not to be considered a wedding chapel.
Ward feels a responsibility to any couple he personally joins in holy matrimony.
"If they want to utilize my services as a minister, I ask them to attend eight counseling sessions that are approximately and hour and a half in length," Ward said. "If they are serious about their relationship, I feel that they will give this the time and they will give this the effort. I need to give them a good foundation."
In the sessions, couples take a little personality test and are counseled on such things as how to have a good fight.
"You need to listen real well and make sure you don't allow the fight to come down to name calling," he said. "Make this a fresh situation and deal with the issues. Don't bring things up from the past that should have been dealt with and forgiven before."
Other sessions concentrate on financial issues, children and roles in marriage.
"Of course we also talk about sexual relationships in marriage," he said. "What has our culture taught us and what is reality? And a biblical love."
One couple made those eight trips up from the Valley for counseling. Now, they occasionally drive up the hill with their young children to attend worship services.
Ward's training to give these classes comes from experience and observation, plus he draws on the books he has read.
He and his wife, Barbara, were married in 1972 -- the same year the parsonage was built.
The Wards raised their three children in the parsonage.
Ward graduated from Southwestern Bible College in Phoenix in 1977. The community oriented church opened its doors to the Wards in 1984.
Over the past two decades, the church has grown to meet the needs of congregation and community. A fellowship hall and Sunday school rooms were added.
Ward is active in his local community. He has substituted at the public school. He is a pool EMT and has taught at the college. He loved coaching girls fast-pitch softball and is currently coaching his grandson's little league team.
Ward likened the relationship of pastor and congregation when he said with a smile,"I hope it has been a good marriage for the community as well."
Sunday School is at 9:45 a.m. followed by morning worship at 11 a.m. Evening praise is at 6.
To learn more about the First Baptist Church in Pine, call (928) 476-3552.
This story is a another part of the Roundup's continuing series on how the churches in the Rim country add beauty and grace to our community.