“By God We’re Still Here”
Oakhurst Baptist Church Celebrates 100 Years in Decatur
Oakhurst Baptist Church, a progressive and inclusive congregation, celebrates 100 years of ministry September 21-22, 2013. All are welcome to attend our centennial celebration and worship services.
Highlights of the celebration weekend include the following:
History displays and art show
Storytelling and conversations
Saturday homecoming dinner
Performing arts evening
Sunday worship and reception following
The Oakhurst congregation took a controversial stand in 1967 to welcome African American members during a period of white flight. Afterwards, the 1,300-member congregation dropped to 500, and the church gave up plans for a new sanctuary, moving all of its activities from several new buildings back to its East Lake Drive location near today’s MARTA station. This decision allowed more resources to be used for missions than for construction. In 1972, Oakhurst ordained its first two women deacons, and in 1974, the church ordained a female, long-time educational director to the ministry, adding her to the pastoral staff. Several years later, Oakhurst again caught national attention when it offered the church property as bond for an ill, escaped Indiana inmate who had been living peacefully in Atlanta the prior 10 years.
By 1980, the neighborhood had declined. Houses surrounding the church were sold for $1 by the federal government to encourage home ownership. Through these years, the church resettled refugees, tutored children, gave refuge to the homeless, and advocated for peace, justice, literacy, and other causes.
But it was the decision to change its covenant to include anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, that moved the Georgia Baptist Convention to oust Oakhurst Baptist in 1999.
Oakhurst Baptist Church or its members have founded or been instrumental in local ministries such as Oakhurst Recovery Program; Decatur Emergency Assistance Ministry; Decatur Cooperative Ministry; Decatur’s sister city relationship with Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and Good Fellowship Club for Oakhurst neighborhood. National ministries have included Baptist Peace Fellowship, SEEDS (a magazine and education ministry about hunger), Baptists Today, and the Alliance of Baptists.
For more information on centennial events visit www.oakhurstbaptist.com or call 404-378-3677.
Centennial Celebration Schedule
Saturday, September 21
All day Saturday and Sunday
Art and church history displays in the Fellowship Hall
9:00 a.m. Mission service project
1:00-3:30 p.m. Storytelling and memory sharing, including folks who were involved in groups such as SEEDS, Hospitality House, Cuba Partnership Mission Group, Oakhurst Recovery Program, Baptist Peace Fellowship, Hess Drive Group Home, Cuban Detainee Support, and Baptists Today
4:00-6:00 p.m. Homecoming Dinner. Reservations only. Rs.v.p.here
7:00 p.m. Evening of performing arts, a special evening of performances, anchored by a short piece by home-grown playwright Lauren Gunderson
Sunday, September 22
9:30 a.m. Coffee and conversation in the Fellowship Hall
9:45 a.m. Church School classes meet—visitors welcome
11:00 a.m. Centennial worship service, with many former staff members recognized and participating
12:30 p.m. Reception in the Fellowship Hall
Share your memories and stories
Please gather, write, and contribute your Oakhurst Baptist Church memories and stories, for a sequel to Stories of Oakhurst. Send stories by email or postal mail to Oakhurst Baptist Church, (firstname.lastname@example.org), Attn: Lynn Farmer, History Committee, 222 East Lake Drive, Decatur, GA 30030.
Oakhurst Baptist Church Centennial
Lynn Donham, Centennial Celebration Steering Committee Chair,
404-441-7297. Please contact Lynn for hi-resolution images if needed for print. Low-resolution images are included with this email.
Oakhurst Baptist Church
For more information see www.oakhurstbaptist.org
Melanie Vaughn-West, Pastor
Lanny Peters, Pastor
222 East Lake Drive
Decatur, GA 30030