Willow Grove Baptist Church is known for their love of people and their passion for the Bible. Everyone is welcome at Willow Grove. We work together with local churches of different backgrounds to serve our community and reach those looking for a place to belong. We invite you to join us on Sundays as we worship together.
Our mission is reaching the world with the gospel message while allowing transformation through the teaching and love of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Kenneth McNeil has served the Willow Grove Baptist Church since February 2015. A lifetime of formal education, real world experience, and Spirit-led mentors have shaped Pastor Kenneth into an inspired preacher, an effective leader, and caring pastor.
Pastor Kenneth earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ashford University and a Master of Divinity degree from George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. His 22 years of highly decorated service in the U.S. Army honed his faith, his courage, and his leadership. Among other recognitions of his character and leadership, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Afghanistan.
Called to ministry in 2005, Pastor Kenneth began immediately serving the Lord wherever he was deployed including Chaplain assistant and Interim Pastor at Canaan Baptist Church in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He was licensed and ordained at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Clarksville, TN. While in Tennessee he was instrumental in developing a prison ministry and preached weekly at a transitional facility for ex-offenders. Throughout his ministry Pastor Kenneth has pursued a vision of bringing the love of God to all people regardless of race, age, culture or background.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Pastor Kenneth and his wife Michele have three children and are committed to Christ, family, and the greater Waco community.
History of Willow Grove Baptist Church
The Willow Grove community was born in the heart of William “Buck” Manning in 1871. William was born as a slave in Mississippi around 1826, the son of a plantation owner. At the age of 45, “Buck” manning and first settlers organized a church in Valley Mills, Texas, but was not satisfied with the location. Uncle Buck, A.W. Crawford, and others moved the church to what is now the Willow Grove Community. The lumber was carried from Valley Mills to Willow Grove by wagons. They planted “Willow Switches,” thus deriving the name “Willow Grove.”
Historical markers of the two founders were erected some years ago aside from the church. The inscription on the marker states, “Buck Manning and A.W. Crawford, founders of Willow Grove Community in 1871. First settlers were R.G. Manning, H. Roberson, Green McLennan, Lee Hamilton, H.F Eaves, and R.C. Chaves.
The church building was moved twice, destroyed by fire, rebuilt, renovated and still standing by the grace of God. Through the years a wonderful spirit of cooperation has prevailed. Whenever the church is in need of repair, the citizens of Willow Grove community band together like their forefathers to get the work done.
It is a history of a resilient people who “keep on keeping on” according to long-time members Teresa Crawford and Rosie Palmer in a 2004 interview. Because of the fire, many church records were destroyed. The records that remain tell the story of 19 wonderful pastors who have served this congregation during its history.
Today the church stands at the crossroads of the historic Willow Grove community, Speegleville, and Crawford. New subdivisions are now sprouting out of the same soil the hearty founders plowed to establish a community where everyone could experience a better life.