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A Publication of

Spring 2014


Serving DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale Counties

Inside: Springfield Baptist ‘Right Choice’ welcomes unites ministries TD Jakes

A Sergeant in the Pulpit

The importance of baby dedications

BE INSPIRED... at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. isitors are welcome year-round at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, the inspirational home of Georgia’s Trappist Monks. Nestled on 2,300 acres in Conyers, the Monastery offers a scenic and peaceful environment to explore. Experience a day in the life of a monk, or learn about the Trappists in Georgia at the Historic Museum. See the beautiful Abbey Church. Browse through the Bonsai Garden, Bonsai Nursery and gift shop. Visit the Abbey Store for monk-made biscotti, fruitcake, fudge, fair trade items and the largest selection of Christian books in the state. Stay for the day – or experience our overnight retreats. • 770.760.0959



L-R, Front row: Pastor Vincent Harris, Voices of Faith-Newton, Bishop Gary Hawkins, Sr., Voices of Faith Ministries, Dr. Jerome E. King, Mount Moriah Baptist Church L-R, Backrow: Pastor James C. Ward, Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Marvin L. Crawford, First Saint Paul A.M.E. Church, Rev. Dr. Edward W. Lee, Shiloh Baptist Church

contents Mind, Body and Soul The Spiritual Meaning of “4” ...18

Rockdale’s monastery: A place of peace ...20 Why you should dedicate your baby ...24 Healthy leadership for the body of Christ ...40

Planters Pastor Vincent Harris launches church in Covington ...16 Conyers Pastor Corey Hambrick balances faith and crime ...37

Milestones Voices of Faith to release CD ...12 TD Jakes celebrates Springfield Baptist’s dedication ...26 Lithonia’s Jamie Grace tops gospel artists’ charts ...30

Making History Birmingham bombing survivor shares her story ...32 DeKalb pastors present Right Choice unity service ...34 4 | WWW.CHURCHESNOW.COM • SPRING 2014


Leading people to


and transforming believers into

His likeness.

We are a contemporary church with a 133 year heritage. Dr. Jerome E. King serves as the twelfth pastor in our rich history of 133 years in the making. In 2009, and after 24 years of ministerial service, Dr. King assumed the responsibilities of Senior Pastor for Mount Moriah. In these 5 years he has committed himself to building mature Christians and healthy families through dynamic expository preaching, worship, discipleship, outreach and fellowship.

in various executive, consulting and professorial roles at Luther Rice University & Seminary, the North American Mission Board and the Georgia Baptist Convention. He is the founder of Paramount Leadership and Solid Foundations, two organizations serving businesses, value based companies and churches in the areas of strategic planning, leadership, organization and inspirational development.

Dr. King earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. He has also received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice University & Seminary of Lithonia, GA and a Master of Science degree in Bible and Ministry from Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, TX. Additionally Dr. King has served

Through the years, the Lord has graced Mount Moriah with strong leadership and congregations of committed Christians seeking God’s heart. We invite you to visit with us and experience A Deeper Word for a Deeper Life . We are deeply committed to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Tucker community, Metro Atlanta and around the world. ©

Dr. Jerome E. King

SERVICE TIMES Sunday Small Class Studies – 8:30 a.m. Sunday Worship 10:00 a.m. Mid-Week Bible Studies – Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. Small Group Studies 6:30 p.m.


1983 Brockett Road Tucker, GA 30084 770.934.5002





God Our Creator, Christ Our Redeemer, Church Our Community Rev. Marvin L. Crawford, MD | 2687 Klondike Road, Lithonia, GA 30058

Sunday School 9 a.m. Worship Services Sundays at 10 a.m. Bible Study Wednesday Noon and 7 p.m.




Saint Paul African

Methodist Episcopal Church

First Saint Paul A.M.E. Church has been a constant historical part of the Lithonia community, dating back to the 1870’s when the original Saint Paul Church was just an arbor bush at the intersection of Covington Highway and Main Street. Today, First Saint Paul’s works reflect the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s mission “to seek and save the lost, and serve the needy through a continuing program of preaching the Gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, cheering the fallen, providing jobs for the jobless, administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and mental institutions and senior citizens homes.” One of First Saint Paul’s most visible ministries in the community is the Eldoris Williams food pantry, which opens its doors bi-weekly on the second and fourth Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and as needed on other days. The evangelism ministry also provides clothing, medicine, books and financial assistance to ministries in South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Liberia, Tanzania and Ghana. First Saint Paul is known for being a charismatic, energetic, praising organism with powerful, thought-provoking preaching and an uplifting choir. There is always a joyful noise in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings as parishioners prepare to receive a word from God and be empowered to spread God’s gospel. At First Saint Paul, it is commonplace to hear of God’s healing through testimonies by those who have been healed. The church’s pastor, Dr. Marvin

Dr. Marvin L. Crawford, M.D.

“I believe in penicillin and prayer to make whole the broken.” L. Crawford, M.D. is blessed to have been trained as a physician to heal using medicine and anointed as a healer using the power of faith and prayer. “I believe in penicillin and prayer to make whole the broken,” said Dr. Crawford. “The church prays and provides health education and has one of two free clinics in one of its buildings.” The church places a strong emphasis on education for its youths. First Saint Paul’s Christian Education Ministry offers an array of academic assistance including providing a summer academy to improve reading and math skills. The church serves as a site for mentoring students from multiple schools including Will Mariah, First Saint Paul School, Faith Academy

and Lithonia Academy of Technology and Environment. Saint Paul helps prepare its students for higher education by providing trips to visit college campuses. The church also celebrates students’ academic achievement with with recognition programs for students of all ages—from those who are in pre-K to adults who are in graduate and professional schools. The church assists with applications and recommendations as needed. As a result, the dividends are paying off, church leaders say. In recent years, First Saint Paul has witnessed 100 percent of its students graduating from high school and 90 percent attending college. Just as education is important to First Saint Paul, so is its involvement in the community. In recent years, the church served as a meeting place for Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment, which worked to keep a biomass gasification plant out of Lithonia. First Saint Paul is an observer of ceremonial experiences of the early followers of Jesus Christ. It faithfully observes Ash Wednesday with imposition of ashes and Maundy Thursday with foot washing performed by pastor and staff. Baptism of infants and dedication of children are encouraged. These are moving experiences in the church as children are given to God and publicly announced as part of Gods family. Worship services are held on Sundays at 10 a.m., Sunday School is at 9 a.m. and Bible Study is held Wednesdays at noon and 7 p.m. First Saint Paul AME Church is located at 2687 Klondike Road, Lithonia, Georgia. 770-484-9660. CHURCHES Now | 11

Voices of Faith to mark 20th anniversary with CD release


By Valerie J. Morgan

ishop Gary Hawkins, Sr., pastor of Voices of Faith Ministries, always begins his sermons with four words that are familiar to his congregation: “There is a Word…” These days, the bishop is uplifting God not only with a Word from the Scriptures but with a spiritual song he has composed. Bishop Hawkins and Voices of Faith’s choir has been working on “You Kept Me” along with a collection of other songs that the church is producing to mark the church’s 20th anniversary this year. The church is preparing to host a live recording in June during its homecoming weekend celebration, which are part of the anniversary festivities. “We are excited about our first CD project! We are celebrating 20 years of ministry and thought how fitting to honor God with a worship CD. This is a small token of our appreciation and love to God for blessings us with 20 years of tremendous ministry,” said Bishop Hawkins. “There are some incredible songs on this CD that will bless many! We have written songs that are both traditional and contemporary. We want every one to come out and experience the move of God.” The independent project is a collaboration of the choirs from each of Voices of Faith’s seven locations, including its main campus in Stone Mountain. The Baton Rouge, LA congregation will be traveling to Atlanta to participate in the celebration. The CD has 10 songs that written mostly by members of the congregation and Bishop Hawkins. In addition to “You Kept Me,” Bishop Hawkins is working on another song whose theme centers on having faith. He said he is still developing a title for the song. Bishop Hawkins said he was

inspired to write “You Kept Me” while reflecting on God’s grace and mercy. He said he was heading home from Baton Rouge, LA after preaching there when he began to thank God and give Him praise for everything. He said he pulled off on the side of the road on the way to the airport and jotted down the words that filled his heart. He sang the tune over and over and as soon as he arrived home, he contacted his personal musician, Mark Berry, who listened and then put the music to his vision. “I have never written a song before, but I clearly heard from God. This song, “God Kept Me” was written from my trials and triumphs. God reminded me that all I had been through, He kept me,” said Bishop Hawkins. Pastor-Elect Miah White, who is stepping down as Voices of Faith’s Minister of Music to lead the church of her retiring father in St. Louis, did the arrangement for Bishop Hawkins’ song. She also composed other pieces for the CD and will help guide the completion of the work before her new assignment starts in August. “The CD caters to everyone—from 6 to 75. There are great praise and worship songs, great spiritual songs, upbeat songs. It’s just a balanced CD that reflects Voices of Faith’s ministry,” White said. “You can put the CD in and listen to it from the beginning to the end and not want to skip any of the songs.” White said the Voices of Faith Ministries is the Executive Producer of the CD. “We’re doing this as an independent project, but we’re believing God for a label for national distribution,” White said.

Bishop Gary Hawkins, Sr.


Voices of Faith Ministries’ live recording will be June 7, 7 p.m., at the Rockdale County location, 1290 Sigman Road, Conyers. All are invited to the free concert. A homecoming cookout is planned June 8 after the 11:30 a.m. worship service at the church’s main campus, 2500 Rockbridge Road S.W., Stone Mountain.


BUILDING A Strong Legacy Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church’s Pastor James C. Ward By Joshua Smith At 5’4, Pastor James C. Ward is modest in stature, but a giant in ministry, overseeing one of DeKalb County’s oldest churches. Every Sunday, the 66-year-old pastor reaches a multigenerational congregation at Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church in East DeKalb County. He provides a detailed outline of every sermon in the church’s printed bulletins so that his congregation may easily follow along and jot down notes as he preaches. Pastor Ward illustrates his points in a way that is colorful and engaging. A history buff, he may refer to an African folk tale, quote a Greek philosopher, refer to a recent sporting event or recount the latest chit-chat from the barbershop. His preaching addresses the issues and problems of today and provides Biblical answers in a positive, uplifting way.   “I write the outline of every sermon so that the message


will follow a logical order. It keeps me from rambling too far off course. I usually include an introduction, an exposition and some closing thoughts. We feel it is very important to be organized. I use a wide range of illustrations in sermons because that is the way you bring things down to the people with relevance,” said Ward, who holds bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and German Literature from Morehouse and a Master of Divinity degree from the New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Pastor Ward jokingly tells his parishioners, if I don’t preach it right, you take the outline home and preach it again to yourself.” March marked Pastor Ward’s 19th anniversary and Antioch’s 145th anniversary. It was 12 people who founded the church in 1869. They spent $2.50 for the ministry’s first church, a mere bush arbor to worship under. Since then, Antioch has enjoyed a line of great leaders including the Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, maternal grandfather of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Antioch also was the first AfricanAmerican Baptist congregation in Lithonia, according to church history. “It’s a great feeling being here. You are talking about a great church with a great history,” said Pastor Ward. “I’m a country boy from Abbeville, Alabama, whom God has blessed tremendously with a dynamic church that I love pastoring.”    Since Pastor Ward took the helm in 1995, Antioch has

been a church on the move. It has established numerous ministries and grown to thousands of members. The church has been a pillar of the community, opening its doors for public meetings, serves as a voter polling site and even as a place for the Lithonia Police Department and government officials to practice disaster drills. “We will always be here for the community. We love the fact that government and other agencies want to use our church location for all those purposes,” said Pastor Ward, who was recognized by President Clinton with a plaque for Dedicated Community Service on Feb. 17, 1999 and invited to the White House in 2001 for a special program in which President Bush invited 50 pastors from across the Nation to strategize on affective ways to reach the community and other issues.  Pastor Ward also has served as a vessel to prepare others to spread the Gospel. At Antioch, he has 30

ministers under his leadership. The church recently celebrated the ordination of Minister Frances Knight Pinckney, and allowed Minister Althelene Table to deliver her initial sermon.     The ordination celebration highlighted Antioch’s worship arts ministries, which Pastor Ward says operates with a spirit of excellence. Pastor Ward said he made sure the church had a top-notch sound system for its ministries when the church was built in 2004. Antioch has welcomed world-renown pianist Mark Hayes and it presents several special events throughout the year featuring its liturgical dance ministry and choirs, including the James C. Ward Chorale, which sings for special occasions, invited performances, funeral services and fifth Sunday worship services at the church.  “At Antioch, we have dynamic choirs and dance ministry members who share a unique passion to praise the Lord,” said Pastor Ward. “I am so

thankful for this great church. They believe in performing with a level of excellence and I love them for it.” Pastor Ward, who minored in music at Morehouse, has had a passion for music all of his life. He learned shape note singing at a young age, performed with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and sang in the Morehouse Glee Club in college. In 2013, Lorenz Music of Dayton, Ohio published his choral composition, “King Jesus Is Alive,” which has become one of its best sellers. Outside of music, Pastor Ward loves reading. His members call him a “walking encyclopedia.” “I have a personal library of more than 7,000 volumes and I have taught at several different colleges and seminars,” said Ward. He still teaches a church audio class at Georgia Institute of Technology once a year and is scheduled to lecture at Baylor and Concordia universities.    And just as much as he loves to read, he also embraces technology. The former AT&T Regional Systems Manager, who operates his Apple iPhone like a true pro, says Antioch’s worship services may be viewed online through the web-based program USTREAM, where it has nearly 15,000 views.    “Technology is a good thing. We always try to make sure we have equipment, audio systems and other items that are up-to-date, especially when it comes to sound,” said Pastor Ward. “Many of the members will tell you that the sound system and the Chorale are my babies, but I love all of my members and all ministries. .”   Pastor Ward says he will strive to continue to lead Antioch with vision, boldness and principled leadership.  “I am humbled and honored that God has chosen me as the anointed vessel to lead Antioch-Lithonia,” said Ward. “I will strive to continue to do my best, knowing that I have the support of God’s people and my wife, Idell. At Antioch, we will continue to do great things for the community and the Kingdom.”   Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church is located at 2152 Rock Chapel Road, Lithonia. The church holds Sunday worship services at 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. and Bible Study every Wednesday at noon and 7 p.m. CHURCHES Now | 15


Vincent Harris Pastor Vincent Harris takes helm of Voices of Faith-Newton

takes helm of Voices of Faith-Newton


By Joshua Smith

oices of Faith Ministries will plant a new location in Newton County with Pastor Vincent Harris, who has been a member of the church since 2004.

The new church will hold its first service April 20, 10 a.m., at Middle Ridge Elementary, 11649 S. Covington Bypass Road, Covington. “Everything I do for the Lord. I strive to do it in a spirit of excellence no matter what—from welcoming people into the sanctuary as a gate keeper to praying for spiritual and mental healing in someone’s life,” said Pastor Harris. “I will take that work ethic with me and keep it over my life everyday as a pastor. I plan to lead by example so that people can see the sermon in my actions. I want them to know that I will walk what I preach in the pulpit.” Pastor Harris and his wife of 18 years, LaTonya, have two sons, Vincent Jr., and Jayden. The family lives in Covington and runs a business in the area as well. Harris is owner of Vehtech, Inc., which he started in 2000. The company has two locations, one in Covington and one in Conyers, and it serves corporate, government and some residential clients. The Covington church that Pastor Harris will launch will bring to seven the number of Voices of Faith Ministries locations. Voices of Faith, founded by Bishop Gary Hawkins, Sr. in 1994, has five other locations in Georgia: Stone Mountain, Conyers, Lovejoy, Gainesville and Suwanee. The church also has a location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Bishop Hawkins has told me to take it one day at a time, to remain humble and above all, remember that everything I do is for God’s glory and that whatever happens in this


ministry is for the good of the kingdom,” said Pastor Harris. Bishop Hawkins licensed Harris as a minister in 2006 and ordained him in 2010. “I am looking forward to continuing the mission of saving and restoring people’s lives,” said Pastor Harris. “It is truly an honor to be chosen by God to pastor and to be supported by Bishop to pastor the Covington location.” Pastor Harris, 48, grew up in Brighton, Alabama. He spent his teen years in the U.S. Air Force, serving for nearly five years in the Information Technology Division. He eventually moved to Atlanta to work and during that time, his spiritual walk with God took him to different churches where he held several volunteer positions from gatekeeper to prayer warrior, among others. “Those positions in the church prepared me for this moment. They taught me the importance of servitude,” said Harris. “As a pastor, of course, leadership is a great quality, but service is the essential quality of a pastor. You have to have a passion to serve God’s people.” Harris says Voices has given him the opportunity to flourish in the pulpit through teaching bible study, ministering at baptisms and assisting with the order of service. “When you come to worship with us in Newton, you can expect a dynamic service, led by worship in the word and a sermon that will help you grow both spiritually and mentally,” said Harris. Voices of Faith-Newton’s Sunday worship services are at 11 a.m. Bible Study is held on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Both worship services are held at Middle Ridge Elementary, 11649 S. Covington Bypass Road, Covington. Learn more about the ministry at www.


4 The Spiritual By Mackenzie N. Morgan With this April 2014 edition of “Churches Now,” we look at the spiritual meaning of the number 4. April is the fourth month of the year. Four is the number of foundation: the four seasons, and the four astrological elements—earth, air, water and fire. In the Bible, the number 4 derives its meaning from creation. On the fourth day of the creation story, God completed the physical universe. On this day, He brought into existence the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14 19). Their purpose was not only to give off light, but also to divide the day from the night on earth, thus creating time. Some other Biblical 4 references include: The fourth of the Ten Commandments is to remember and keep God’s

We’ve Got You Covered 24-7 Check Out The Latest Church News At On Common Ground News’

To submit your church’s calendar news, e-mail 18 | WWW.CHURCHESNOW.COM • SPRING 2014



Meaning of “4”


4 4


holy Sabbath day (Exodus 20:9 - 11); After Jesus was nailed and hung on a cross, Roman soldiers divided up his clothes into four parts (one for each soldier - John 19:23); The four witnesses of God on earth are miracles, wonders, signs and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:4); The number of times rainbows are referenced in scripture are four (Genesis 9, Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 4:3, 10:1). And finally, there are four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. Each of these emphasizes a unique aspect of his sacrifice and ministry: Matthew’s focus on Christ being the son of David and a King; Mark highlights the suffering servant aspect of his ministry; John proclaims Jesus is the One and Only begotten Son of God; and Luke showcases him as the “Perfect Man.”




Holy Spirit OF THE

stands as a place of peace


he monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit live in Conyers, 35 minutes outside of Atlanta and seemingly a world away. The Roman Catholic monastery has been located on this Georgia countryside since 1944, a part of the worldwide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. Better known as the Trappists, these monks follow the

Rule of Saint Benedict. “People come here for the peacefulness and the quiet;’ said Jim Burnham, Monastery of the Holy Spirit’s business manager. “They’re almost overwhelmed when they’re confronted with the stillness.” Groups with 15 or more members are encouraged to call ahead to arrange a visit. A typical daytrip group arrives around 10 or 10:30 a.m., Burnham Continued on page 22


Green Pastures Christian Church, Inc. Igniting people for a better world….

Apostle Collette L. Gunby GREEN PASTURES CHRISTIAN CHURCH, INC. Service Times: Sunday School - 9 a.m. Sunday Worship -10 a.m. Wednesday Bible Study - Noon & 7 p.m.


said. They can start in the Monastic Heritage Center with a video about the monastic community and browse the exhibits. Many groups enjoy attending the noontime prayer service, he said. “The church is a short walk -may­be a quarter mile and a pretty walk;’ he said. “The monks themselves built the Gothic-style church.” After the service has concluded, the group can gather for lunch followed by some time for shopping. For a small extra fee, groups can arrange for a monk to lead a guided tour. “Visitors really enjoy that chance to meet the monks,” Burnham said. “All the monks have unique personalities.”

One monk, in particular, left his mark in the art of bonsai. In the 1970s, Father Paul developed quite a following for his bonsai mastery. His carefully tended plants remain on display in the bonsai nursery. The monastery’s outdoor spaces also are worth a visit, Burnham said. A prayer walk introduces the Cistercian saints, and the Stations of the Cross signs line a lake. Overnight retreats can be arranged for groups. The monastery’s on-site retreat center can sleep about 40, Burnham said.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit (770) 760-0959



Mission: Teaching the Word, Touching the Soul, Transforming the Life

Scriptural Foundation: Luke 4:18-19 and John 5:6b

Worship Times on Sunday: 8:00 a.m. The Bridge 9:00 a.m. Discovery 10:00 a.m. Corporate Worship Dr. Mark W. Thompson, Pastor Redemptive Life

Internet Broadcast: Contact us at Email: Phone: 770-922-1234 Address: 406 Pleasant Hill Road, Conyers, GA 30012 CHURCHES Now | 23

Baby Dedications Why baptizing your child in faith is important By Sharlene Brown and Joshua Smith


hen Prince George, third in line as heir to the British monarchy, was christened in the fall of last year, the world was invited to share in the festivities with days of photos and details surrounding the ceremony. Media coverage spotlighted this historic and sacred ritual, which became a modern day subject for interest, introduction and respect. Baby christenings and baby dedications have similar meanings and purposes, but are performed differently based on denominations. Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians and some Protestants support ceremonies of christenings in their doctrines, which involve the sprinkling of water on infants and blessing and prayers for the baptism of the child into the faith. “The ceremony draws reference from Luke 2:22


when Moses, Joseph and Mary took him (Jesus) to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The ceremony was really a big thing in the Methodist church, referred to as a christening,” said Pastor Aldren Sadler, Sr. of the Church of New Beginnings in Conyers. “The term baby dedication comes from Baptist and other denominations. The ceremony is important because as Christians, we believe that a child is a gift from God. At a baby dedication, we give that gift back to God and the parents make a promise before God and the church that they will raise the child up in a Christian home.” The bible highlights baby dedications several times in the Bible. There are descriptions of baby dedications in the Old as well as the New Testament of the Bible. In the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel 1:11, a barren woman named Hannah made a solemn

“The baby dedication is one of the most important ways your family can publicly show your faith.”

promise to the Lord that if she bore a son, she would dedicate him to the Lord. Likewise the ceremony is found in the New Testament, in Luke 2:22. “The baby dedication is one of the most important ways your family can publicly show your faith. Through the ceremony, parents and the church agree that we are responsible for the children and we will try our best to make sure we raise the children upright, serving the Lord,” said Pastor Collette L. Gunby of Green Pastures Christian Ministries in Decatur. “There’s no greater moment when parents sense that children are a gift from God. In these joyful moments, pastors have the privilege of sharing how parents can express their full appreciation to God through the baby dedication.” Baby dedications are normally performed by a religious leader of a denomination such as a bishop, pastor, elder or minister.

The baby dedication is usually held as a part of the regular church service to include the church congregation, who is charged with assisting in the spiritual development of the child. In other instances, the ceremony is performed for a group of parents dedicating children or requested in private with limited audience. “The baby dedication is not really for the baby. It is for the parents because it can serve as a wakeup call for them to realize that their life needs to be in order and that they may need to rededicate their lives to Christ,” said Pastor Jermaine A. Smith of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Covington. “With a baby dedication, parents declare one of the most important commitments they can make to their children. Parents make a commitment to God and to their children that they will raise them in the right way, teaching them to be obedient to God’s word.”


Springfield Baptist to celebrate church dedication with Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Walter Scott Thomas


By Valerie J. Morgan

pringfield Baptist Church in Conyers will welcome mega church leader Bishop T.D. Jakes for the dedication celebration of its campus May 2-4. Bishop Jakes, founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, which has more than 30,000 members, will lead the pre-dedicatory worship service on May 2, 7 p.m. Springfield will open its doors at 5:30 p.m. “We are looking forward to Bishop Jakes coming,” said Springfield Pastor Eric W. Lee, Sr. “He has been such an international trailblazer for younger pastors like myself. I think every growing ministry in this age has been inspired or elevated because of the ministry of Bishop Jakes and the Potter’s House.” Springfield has been planning the consecration every since it acquired its 42-acre campus at 1877 Iris Drive late last year. The church wanted to have a monumental celebration to mark a new chapter in its 134-year history and developed plans for a three-day event. “It’s important to dedicate the buildings because it’s biblical. When there is holy ground, it needs to be Continued on page 28 26 | WWW.CHURCHESNOW.COM • SPRING 2014

Bishop T.D. Jakes

Palm Sunday A p r i l 1 3, 8 am & 10:45 am

resurrection Concert A p r i l 1 6, 7 pm featured


Micah Stampley

Seven last Words of CHRIST Service A p r i l 1 8, 7 pm

resurrection Sunday A p r i l 2 0, 8 am & 10:45 am

come experience god’s new mercies new mercies christian church • sr. pastor Jesse Curney, III 4000 Five Forks trickum Rd SW, lilburn, GA 30047 770-925-8600 • •

“It’s important to dedicate the buildings because it’s biblical. When there is holy ground, it needs to be consecrated, declared.” – Pastor Eric W. Lee, Sr

consecrated, declared,” said Pastor Lee. “It’s what Solomon did when the temple was erected. It’s an acknowledgement that where we stand today would not have occurred had it not been for the Lord on our side.” Pastor Lee said Springfield had to overcome several hurdles, including raising the $2.5 million down payment, to acquire the property. Months before the closing, the congregation fasted 66 days believing that God would make

a way. The property, previously home to Church in the Now, was listed at $18.8 million when it went into foreclosure after declining membership in 2011. Springfield and others made offers, but Evangelical Christian Credit Union, the mortgage holder, decided to enter into a lease-purchase agreement with Springfield in 2012. Springfield closed on its $12 million, 25year loan on Dec. 18, 2013. “We faced adversity all the way to the finish,” said Lee,

Life Abundantly Christian Church 1879 Smyrna Road Conyers, GA 30094 Sunday Worship 9:30 & 11:45 a.m. Bible Study Tuesdays @ 7:30 p.m. Pastor Kendrick L. Meredith Sr. 28 | WWW.CHURCHESNOW.COM • SPRING 2014

who had a flat tire as he and his wife, First Lady Meik Lee, were en route to sign the closing papers in Alpharetta. “We thank God for every penny, dime and nickel that has been raised.” Pastor Lee said Bishop Walter Scott Thomas of New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore will lead dedication service on May 3 at 11 a.m. The doors of the church will open at 10 a.m. “Bishop Thomas is an intellectual hero of mine. He helped guide me through many of the treacherous steps of the acquisition and helped me to keep the vision before the people,” said Pastor Lee. “We are looking forward to him preaching and celebrating with us.” Pastor Lee will lead the final day of the celebration on May 4, at the 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services. Springfield Baptist Church invites the community to attend the celebration on May 2-4. The church is located at 1877 Iris Drive (along I-20) in Conyers. 770-929-1111.

Pastor Eric W. Lee, Sr

Bishop Walter Scott Thomas

Raymond Hill Missionary Bapt st Church Senior Pastor

First Lady

Anton Rowe Felicia Rowe Service Times:

Sunday School Sundays 9:30 a.m. Worship Service

Sundays 11:00 a.m. Children’s Church

Sunday 11:00 a.m. Bible Study

Wednesday 7:30 p.m. “Everyone needs a loving family, we want you to join ours at Raymond Hill”

Like Us On Facebook Raymond Hill Baptist Church

Raymond Hill Missionary Baptist Church 1495 South Crestview Drive Snellville, GA. 30078 (770) 558-1088 •


Sunday School 9:30 a.m. Sunday Worship 10:45 a.m. Tuesday Bible Study Church In Action 7:00 p.m. Engage In Bible Conversation Jermaine A. Smith & Tracee Smith Pastor/Teacher

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NEW CONTEMPORARY GOSPEL ARTIST Lithonia’s Jamie Grace soars with “Beautiful Day”


just 22, Jamie Grace is one of the country’s top contemporary Christian artists. The singer-songwriter, who is from Lithonia, already has a 2012 Grammy Award nomination. She’s also the 2012 Best New Artist GMA Dove Award winner. Grace’s latest single, “Beautiful Day,” has well over 1 million YouTube views and the single will be part of a new album, “Ready to Fly,” that will be released by the end of this year. Less than 24 hours upon its summer 2013 debut, “Beautiful Day” jumped to the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Christian and Gospel Songs Chart. Grace, who has been profiled by CNN and ABC’s The View, is still trying to take it all in. “I’m still getting over the fact that people have had such a great response to songs that I started in my dorm room,” Grace said in an online interview with YouTube. “All this has been absolutely incredible. I feel blessed to be able to share my music.” Grace says “Beautiful Day” is a fun song with a message that in spite of what we are going through, every day is a good day and an incredible gift because God made it. Grace was signed to Gotee Records (Toby Mac) in 2010 after gaining a large following on YouTube, where she garnered 13 million views. Last year, in addition to a Billboard Music Award nomination, she was cast in the Christian musical drama film, “Grace Unplugged” and continued to spread her ministry on YouTube and other social media outlets. The former home-schooled student just completed headlining the Spring 2014 “Do Life Big” Tour, hitting states including Georgia, Florida, Alabama, New York, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. Grace, who graduated from Georgia’s Point University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in children’s ministry, says she hopes she can inspire young girls to know that through all the hurt, feeling scared, feeling different or left out, that you can take all that to the Lord in prayer. Grace, who was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at the age of 11, has also started her own non-profit mentoring program, “GraceTalk.” She says the program’s goal is to help families with children who are diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. You can checkout the non-profit and learn more about Jamie Grace’s music on her YouTube channel or at


Barbara Cross and Rev. Carolyn McKinstry

Carolyn McKinstry


Living in the shadows of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing By Joshua Smith Carolyn McKinstry was 15 years old when the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL on Sept. 15, 1963. The white supremacist group attacked the church as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights activists called for peaceful demonstrations around the South. “I walked in the sanctuary and the clock was hanging on the wall: 10:22 a.m. is a time I will never forget. That’s when I heard the blast—that horrifying boom,” said McKinstry. “For a second, I thought it was thunder or a lighting strike. I vividly remember three things from that horror-filled moment: the sound of feet scurrying past me to get to the exits,


the glass shattering in the distance and and when I looked up at the stained glass window, Jesus’ beautiful face was gone.” McKinstry, who lost four of her friends on that “Youth Sunday” morning, recalled that horrific moment in history while visiting New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lithonia, where she was the special guest speaker at New Bethel’s Feb. 26, 2014 Black History Month program. Barbara Cross joined McKinstry at the Lithonia church for the program. Cross, who lives in the Atlanta area and also survived the bombing in 1963, said she had to come support her friend. “When I heard about the program, I knew I had to come out and support Carolyn,” said Cross, who was recognized during New Bethel’s program.

Now 65 and an ordained minister, the Rev. McKinstry tours the world preaching the message of forgiveness. She says during the turbulent 1960s “bombing was a way of life” in the South, a time when black-owned businesses and black residences were attacked in the fight for racial integration. Almost everyone knew someone or something that was bombed as blacks sought to integrate schools, restaurants, buses and change America. McKinstry said one year after the 16th Street Church bombing, the windows in her home were shattered as a result of a bombing to her neighbor’s home. The neighbor was bombed for having white people over for dinner. “It always seemed like the earth would shake a little. It was happening all around us,” McKinstry said. Despite the bombings throughout the South, it was the blast at the 16th Street Baptist Church that rocked the nation and forever changed McKinstry. As church members and then Pastor John Cross, Jr. dug through the rubble of the bombed church’s basement, they found the bodies of 11-year-old Denise McNair and Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, all 14 years old. “This bombing sparked a national uproar in the Civil Rights Movement as people from all races united against this unprovoked attack,” said McKinstry, who was friends with all of the girls who

were killed. McKinstry wouldn’t let her friends’ deaths go in vain. She met Dr. Martin Luther King, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and other key leaders in the Civil Rights Movement when they held assemblies at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Inspired by King’s preaching, McKinstry joined the “Children’s March” and as a protestor, faced fire hoses and dogs that were unleashed by the Birmingham, Alabama Police Department and Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor. She survived the demonstrations, but the bombing at her church haunted her. McKinstry said she struggled with depression for years. “That brutal killing left scars on my heart and mind for a long time. I spent many years looking over my shoulder wondering if I would be next. I wondered why I wasn’t taken with my friends, then I came to the conclusion that I was spared by God to share the story and serve others with the message of compassion and forgiveness,” said McKinstry. New Bethel A.M.E. Pastor Richard Washington said he was honored to have McKinstry—living history—as a guest speaker at his church. “Rev. McKinstry’s story is the ultimate story of holistic healing and overcoming,” said Pastor Washington. “We love history at our church because history gives you a real look at life.”


United We Stand DeKalb clergy join forces for ‘Right Choice’ By Valerie J. Morgan


he electricity surged as the voices from the choir filled the sanctuary at Fairfield Baptist Church in Lithonia. From the balcony to the overflow room, people worshipped, singing and lifting their hands in praise. It seemed like a Sunday morning worship service, but it was different. For one thing, it was a Friday night. For another, the crowd included many of DeKalb County’s top brass and even officials from neighboring Rockdale County—all under one roof.


In the pulpit leading the 2,000 plus people at the unity service were some of DeKalb’s most notable pastors: Pastor Micheal Benton of Fairfield Baptist; Dr. William Flippin of Greater Piney Grove Baptist; Dr. Collette Gunby of Green Pastures Christian Ministries; Dr. Karl Moore of Clarkston First Baptist; Rev. Steven Dial of Rainbow Baptist; Rev. Marlin Harris of New Life Church; Dr. William Watley, of St. Philip AME; Bishop Quincy Carswell of Covenant Christian Church; Dr. Benjamin Gaither of Stronghold Christian Church; and the Rev. Woodrow Walker, II, Cross Culture Church. Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Kerwin

B. Lee of Berean Christian Church and Dr. Cynthia Hale of Ray of Hope Christian Church, who all had previous, sent representatives and several of their members. The large gathering on March 28 was the result of the coalition of pastors spending months working together on a new mentoring initiative for boys called the “Right Choice.” The 13 pastors launched the afterschool program last fall in response to a string of violent crimes committed across metro Atlanta by youths. Cedric Alexander, DeKalb’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Public Safety, galvanized the local churches, the DeKalb Police Department and the DeKalb County School Board. Alexander, who had only been on the job a few months as DeKalb’s new police chief, said it was time to put a stop to the rash of crimes, which included the death of 46-year-old Jerrick Jackson. Jackson, the youngest brother of megachurch Bishop Wiley Jackson, was shot during a robbery last year at his Atlanta home. Jerrick Jackson and his fiancée had just gotten home from a fast food restaurant when several men got out of a car with guns drawn, robbed them and forced them into the house, where Jerrick Jackson fought and was shot several times. Four teens, ages 17 to 19, were charged with his death. Bishop Wiley Jackson said he forgave the young men responsible for his brother’s death and pledged to continue to work with youths in the community. “I have dedicated my entire life to work to uplift the community and invest into the lives of youth, specifically young men. I am committed even the more to continue to invest into the lives of our youth,” said Bishop Jackson. Bishop Quincy Carswell said the unity worship service, which was held nearly a year after the shooting, was historic. “It represented pastors working together, on common ground, for one purpose: to take back DeKalb and save our youths,” said Carswell.

Chief Cedric Alexander bows in prayer at unity service.


Alexander: A modern day ‘Nehemiah’ The coalition credits Chief Alexander for being the catalyst for change. Carswell said Alexander had the vision to do something that’s never been done before in bringing so many pastors together. “We, as pastors, have never worked on something of this magnitude together. It’s wonderful what is happening. You’re talking about foregoing egos and personal agendas for the goal of working as one,” Carswell said. Thunderous applause filled Fairfield as Pastor Ben Gaither saluted Chief Alexander, referring to him as a modern day Nehemiah. The biblical figure, according to the Bible, rebuilt the crumbling walls of Jerusalem in 52 days in the face of hostile neighboring enemies. “It was his (Chief Alexander) vision to see the community come together, to see the churches come together, to see public elected officials, school officials and law enforcement as one,” Gaither said. Gaither said the unity service symbolized the power of a village working together to save its children. “The bible says where there is unity, there is strength. We believe, as a team of clergy, that we have been called together for such a time as this. The main objective is that something has to be done. We cannot continue to live the life that we’ve been living. We cannot continue to go the way we have been going. We’re not going away. We’re going to get bigger.” Many of the pastors in the coalition already are involved with schools that are located near their church campuses, while some are in the planning stages of the Right Choice program. Principals refer students they believe will benefit from the program and the churches have been funding the programs themselves. For example, Pastor Micheal Benton, who hosted the unity service, picks up youths on Thursdays and brings them to his church after school. He feeds the youths and spends time personally with them before their parents pick them up in the evening. “We’re trying to create an environment for them to have something constructive to do after school,” Benton said. “We have to show them how to make the right choices and let them know what they do matters.”


“We, as pastors, have never worked on something of this magnitude together. It’s wonderful what is happening.”


Saving Lives, Saving Souls

Up close with the Life Church Christian Center’s Pastor Corey K. Hambrick


By Joshua Smith

orey Hambrick has a different 9 to 5 than most pastors. On any given day, he may be taking down a major drug bust or investigating leads on a murder. Hambrick is a sergeant for the Conyers Police Department. “Law enforcement is what I do. Ministry is who I am,” said Hambrick, who has been on the police force for five years and currently works as a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division. “Every since I graduated from college in 2006, I always had a passion for policing. I just want to keep the peace any way I can.” Hambrick, known to his parishioners as “Pastor Corey” or P.C., is pastor of The Life Church Christian Center in Conyers. In 2011, while on duty, Hambrick said he received a calling from God to start a church in Rockdale County. “The Lord told me that I needed to be serving who I was serving and that I should be ministering to the same people I was protecting on the force,” said Hambrick.

Pastor Corey K. Hambrick The 30-year-old Rockdale pastor has ties to DeKalb County. He graduated from Redan High School in 2001. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Alabama A&M University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Strayer University. At Alabama A&M, Hambrick founded the J.A.M. college ministry. The acronym stands for Jesus Alive Ministries. He was licensed and


ordained in 2003, while serving as the youth pastor at Victory World Outreach Ministries C.O.G.I.C. in Huntsville, Alabama. “College kids were getting saved every week,” said Hambrick. Now, Hambrick says he has dedicated his life to protecting the “sheep” of the community from the “wolves of life,” meshing two careers. “When it comes to being a pastor and a police sergeant, I believe the careers are actually one in the same,” said Hambrick. “Both of them call on me to do God’s work and protect His sheep. This includes protecting them from the wolves of the world and some people’s inner-wolfish factors.” And Hambrick says just because he carries a Smith & Wesson on his side doesn’t mean that he is not a man of God. In fact, Hambrick says he gets his daily motivation from the biblical story of David and Goliath. “David defeated the towering Goliath with only a slingshot and a word from God. He was the youngest, but stood tall in the face of Saul and Goliath. We must look at the giants in our life and know we can do all things,” said Hambrick.

“People may say: You are of the cloth, but will you kill? If I am forced to use my weapon as David was, I have the authority from God and the government to do so. I do this as a symbol of peace to serve the community, God’s children.” When Hambrick finishes his work with the Police Department, he spends nights working at the church, sometimes getting home as late as 11 p.m. But he says even with the long hours he puts in, he still makes time family. He and his wife, Corrinne, have two daughters, 18-year-old Tiyanna and 6-month-old Chloe. “You definitely have to find that balance. That’s why I’m constantly thanking my wife for helping me with our family and the church. There is no way I could do all this without her,” said Pastor Hambrick. “We always make sure we reserve at least one or two family nights per week.” Both careers keep Hambrick busy. As a police sergeant investigating armed robberies and homicides, Hambrick is currently working a pharmaceutical armed robbery in which suspects duck-taped and tied up three employees at gun point and took narcotics valued at $400,000.

“We have placed a reward of more than $7,000 for anyone with information that can lead to a successful indictment of these criminals,” said Hambrick. “This is one of the largest cases I have been on. Anyone with information can remain anonymous through www. or by calling 404-577-TIPS.” In the pulpit, Hambrick is getting the church ready for a “relationship

intensive” for couples to receive knowledge and counseling on May 9-10; Family and Friends Day on June 21; and the ministry’s third anniversary on Aug. 29 -31. “We are a real people serving a real God, in a every day real world. No matter your age, ethnicity, financial status, our congregation seeks to minister to all,” said Hambrick. “We have members who cover the whole spectrum—from business professionals, attorneys and court clerks to single mothers and victims of domestic violence. My mother, Verna Pitts, who is a member of the church, was both. She raised my sister Tulethia N. Hambrick and me on her own. She prayed for me everyday and I like to think God is still answering her prayers over my life now to this day.” The Life Church Christian Center is located at 1300 Old Covington Road, Conyers. The ministry holds worship service on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Chat with Pastor Hambrick on Twitter, at handler @CK Hambrick. Or visit the church online at and on Facebook.

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Healthy leadership for the body of Christ Personal Trainer Sam Taylor keeps clergy fit By Sharlene Brown Pastor Eric W. Lee, Sr.

Many pastors have incorporated health in their approach to ministering through wellness fairs, community outreach, health walks and weight loss programs. They are striving to keep their congregations both, spiritually fit and physically fit. And they’re setting the example by hitting the gyms themselves. Pastor Eric W. Lee, Sr. of Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers is one of the faithful who makes it his business to exercise. He’s been working out with celebrity personal trainer Sam Taylor for more than 10 years. “I work out at least four times a week. I try to make it five,” said Lee. “I spend about an hour and a half working out each of those days. It’s important to me because as a pastor, I have a very hectic schedule and exercising with my personal trainer helps me to keep healthy.” Besides Lee, Taylor has trained Dr. Cynthia Hale of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Pastor Marlin Harris of New Life Church in Decatur; and Dr. Ben and Sherry Gaither of Stronghold Christian Church in Lithonia, among others. Taylor’s A list of leaders also includes gospel artists, professional athletes, physicians, TV personalities and the list goes on Taylor has plenty of testimonies on his web site ( from his clients who have benefited from his training: “Sam is a tough drill sergeant, but I feel better in my 50s than I did in my 30s,” writes Dr. Sherry Gaither. Taylor says working out is essential, but watching what you eat is critical in achieving optimal health. “Ask yourself, are you digging your grave with your teeth? You could be making your coffin out of soda cans,” said Taylor. “We must think preventive, instead of reactionary. If we change our behaviors now, we won’t have to rely on high Continued on page 42


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“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (James 3:2) blood pressure and other similar medications later.” Taylor says we must learn the foods that are bad for us, gain an understanding of them and eliminate them from our daily diet. “Replace or reduce GMO refined sugars, excessive meat, wheat products, artificial sweeteners, nueroexcitotoxin like MSG and start exercises that are fun, smart and can be easily upgraded. Doing the same training all the time gets boring real quick,” said Taylor. Several biblical references support the views of Taylor and the clergy he trains: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (James 3:2) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God,


and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22) Taylor said one of the most noticeable benefits pastors say they see from exercising and proper diet is overall wellness. “After watching what they eat and training, the pastors most frequent response is a decrease in sick days, and an increase in moral, productivity, and overall wellness,” Taylor said. “You can be a 40-year-old who is fit and has a 20-year-old heart performance, or a 40-year-old who is not fit with an 80-year old heart performance.”

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Churches Now-Spring 2014  

The Spring 2014 Issue of Churches Now

Churches Now-Spring 2014  

The Spring 2014 Issue of Churches Now