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Church celebrates 100th anniversary

 

By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor 

  Religious roots run deep in Henry County, as the area consists of multiple congregations that have been meeting for decades and sometimes centuries. One local church proved that point by celebrating its centennial anniversary on Sunday.

  Oakland Baptist Church first came together in McDonough with 11 charter members in 1913. One hundred years later, the church continues to build upon on its lengthy history with close to 435 current members.

  The church didn’t always call its current location home, though. It took two years before a building was constructed specifically for the ministry.

Oakland Baptist Church sits a few hundred yards away from its original building that was constructed in 1915. The church first began meeting in 1913.                                     Special photo

  “We used to be next door. They met in an old schoolhouse in the field next to us,” said Misty Hammond, ministry assistant. “They started building the original church next door, and we eventually sold that property. We came to the building we’re in now in February 2005.”

  The first church built was a one-room sanctuary without electricity. Oakland Baptist called that initial site home up until 2005. While additions and renovations were made throughout the years, a new building was welcomed eight years ago.

  “There was an atmospheric excitement and celebration that’s hard to put into words. It was a good day,” said Mike Smith, the pastor at Oakland Baptist. “It was so different in here instead of the other building because of the amount of space we had.”

  Oakland Baptist sits on 18.9 acres of land that was purchased from Francis Brooks, the owner of the house next door to the church. The original sanctuary for the church was sold to Faith Independent Baptist Church, which now holds services just a few hundred yards away from Oakland Baptist.

  Smith became a part of the church in 2000. After fourteen years of service, he said completing construction on the building Oakland Baptist uses now was the biggest accomplishment he’s seen in his 14 years. With a continuing need to serve all ages, he said they are looking at another project to add to the history.

  “We have plans to expand. We’re looking at right now adding a youth center for the young people. That’s the next major project on the burners,” said Smith.

  Any congregation that withstands 100 years of operation is bound to endure major world events throughout its life. Smith said after the Great Depression, two world wars and even the recent economic downturn, the church and its members have persevered through some of the most adverse times the nation has seen.

  “It shows that it’s been on track, that God has blessed it,” said Smith. “It has some very strong ties to this community and a commitment to the people of the community.”

  Through his ministry, Smith has become the longest-serving pastor in Oakland Baptist’s history. He spoke highly of the members who have been with him for so many years, saying they always put in extra effort with anything they do.

  “This is probably one of the friendliest groups of people that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Nobody will ever come in here and not be welcomed,” said Smith. “They go above and beyond in terms of meeting the need.”

  Hammond said she has been with the church for seven years now, and in her perspective, the one aspect that separates Oakland Baptist from other churches is the relationship the members have with each other.

Misty Hammond, ministry assistant, and Mike Smith, pastor of Oakland Baptist Church, were two members of the Centennial Team.                                                   Photo by Alex Welch

  “There’s a unity here, because if you call on them for something, they all just swarm, and it’s over an abundance,” said Hammond.

  Mission teams from Oakland Baptist have traveled to Alaska, New Orleans and Costa Rica in the past. Members served in several different functions when the Summer Olympics visited Atlanta in 1996. And all of this information can be found in a booklet that Dorothy Spivey, Grace Coombs and Lou Thackston put together in preparation for the centennial celebration. The three members worked diligently to track down data and facts about Oakland Baptist’s 100-year timeline.

  Along with putting together the historical content, members created a Centennial Team to prepare for Sunday’s celebration. Smith said the team started working on the project at the beginning of 2013.

  The celebration featured representatives from the Southside Baptist Network and the Georgia Baptist Convention. Dr. Frank Nuckolls from the GBC presented a plaque to the church to honor their 100th anniversary. Oakland Baptist’s choir sang “Thine Lord,” the same song that was featured at the original building dedication in 1915. After the morning service, the congregation gathered for a special luncheon. 

  Since 1960, Oakland Baptist has performed 324 baptisms, and 112 have come under Smith’s ministry. The end of the church’s history booklet reads, “To be continued.” Oakland Baptist will continue to foster its presence in the McDonough community, perhaps for another 100 years.

 

 

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