History of the church of Christ in Fayetteville, Georgia
In the early 1950s, there were no congregations of the church of Christ in many of the 159 counties in the state of Georgia, and Fayette County was no exception. The elementary work that took place in the early 1950s through cottage meetings at the home of Mrs. Bennie Davis led to the introduction of the Lord’s church to the Fayetteville area. Bible correspondence courses were distributed and several people put on Christ in baptism. Most of the Bible correspondence courses were graded and distributed by women of the East Point and Hapeville congregations.
Tent meetings were found to be effective, and the new members in the area requested there be one. Brother Roy Welch, an elder of the East Point congregation, and Cliff Nash of the North Avenue congregation took two young men down to Fayetteville to clean off the lot where the old Railroad Depot is now located, for the purpose of erecting the tent. (Wayne Nash, for many years, served the Fayetteville church as one of her elders, was one of the boys who cut those weeds and grass). The tent meeting was successful, and more were more planned. On August 28, 1955, the church at Fayetteville began meeting regularly, following a ten-day tent meeting conducted by Brother Horace E. Huggins, a minister in Griffin Georgia. Eddie Hamilton was the song leader for that first tent meeting. The American Legion Post House was secured as a meeting place for a rental fee of $2.00 per week.
On February 19, 1956 a meeting was held and it was agreed that the church would purchase a lot just four doors south of the primary school building (now the City Hall) on South Glynn St. This property would later become the site where the congregation’s first building would be erected, but at this early stage the church was small and things couldn’t happen as fast as the young congregation wanted them to. When the American Legion Post’s house became unavailable after March of 1956, the fledgling church made arrangements with the School Board to meet in the former School Band House for a rental fee of $3.00 per week.
From August 26 through September 5, 1956, David East (minister of the North Avenue congregation in Hapeville, Georgia) held another tent meeting in Fayetteville. The excellent meeting left the brethren more convinced than ever of the need to have a permanent meeting house. In 1957 plans were drawn up for the building to be located at 300 South Glynn on the lot owned by the church. Money was not plentiful, but the labors of faithful men were, and through the efforts of faithful members the building was finally completed for occupancy in September 1959. The first services were held in the new building on October 4, 1959.
Many souls were led to Christ at the location on Glynn Street: Young men and women set their goals to be preachers, homemakers, school teachers, etc. from this location. Couples were married, babies were born, and the dead were buried from this location. Other congregations sprouted from the efforts of members of this congregation (notably, the Peachtree City church), and many other mission efforts were supported by the generosity of the members.
“When one grows accustomed to the place where they worship their God, there is a great void when one is uprooted from that location.” The church continued meeting in the Glynn Street location until July 1982.
After much growth and many blessings, the leaders of the congregation presented the idea of selling the building and building a new, larger one in order to have a better place and more tools to serve the Lord. The Glynn Street building was sold and vacated in July 1982 and with the dedication of about 40 members and the blessings of the Lord, plans were put in place to build a new building at 1765 Highway 85 North.
There is a story worth remembering about the church ending up here on Highway 85 north: The church already had property on Highway 54 west of the Court House, but it was decided that it just was not buildable for the church and its parking. The brethren set out to find a more suitable piece of property, and a longtime Fayetteville resident informed them of a property that was available adjacent to his own. The location had been the site of the old Highway 85 Drive-in theater. The neighbor stated that the property was not actually on the market, but that the owner might be persuaded to sell it if approached properly. The owner was approached, the property was purchased, and at the same time, the next door neighbor told the elders that he would give the church an option to purchase his land just as soon as the church outgrew this newly-acquired corner property.
Neither the congregation nor the well-meaning neighbor had any way of knowing that his health would result in a situation that would not allow the church to exercise his well-intended option.
While construction of the new building took place, the church met temporarily in the Fayette County Junior High lunchroom for Sunday morning and evening worship. The church was not allowed, however, to use any classrooms for Bible school classes, nor could the congregation meet in the school on Wednesday for midweek Bible study.
Have you ever had the responsibility of setting up for a worship service or tearing down after? This became a very, very tough task before the new building was finished, and people “burned-out” quickly. Nerves were sometimes very frayed!
Despite the headaches and problems associated with construction, the body of Christians grew both in number and spiritually. Since the church could not all meet together on Wednesday nights for Bible study in the School, the elders divided the congregation up into LIFE groups. Five groups met in homes with each group studying the same outlines provided by the elders. This temporary arrangement lasted for about 12 months, and the congregation continued the LIFE group concept for many years after moving into the new building. (The L.I.F.E. group concept should not be confused with some of the “small group ministry” concepts in operation throughout the churches today: The letters meant: L-Love, I-Involvement, F-Fellowship, and E-Evangelism.)
With construction completed, the church took up occupancy on June 6, 1983. This was not a “turn-key” construction package, and the deacons still had to landscape the property and do many other chores to make the new facility home.
From the small number of members (about 40) who dedicated themselves to build a new building in 1982 until 1987, the Lord increased the number of members to more than 200. Expansion had become necessary, but the owner of the property next door had become disabled and his verbal sale option was now void. Even with plans to expand the existing facilities as fully as possible, the church would remain “land-locked.” As Fayetteville and Fayette County began to experience rapid commercial and residential growth, the church began to receive offers to purchase the existing facilities and a decision was made to entertain an offer for the sale of the building. After one prospective developer withdrew, another took up the offer and a price was agreed upon. The church purchased the current site on Redwine road, which then consisted of ten acres and a house. Plans for construction were promptly drawn up, the church submitted an application to be annexed into the city and a zoning change was approved to allow for a church building to be constructed on at this location.
In 1998, the elders of the neighboring Riverdale congregation found themselves in a dilemma. The congregation had dwindled to a number so small that they could not continue the support of their minister without the help of sister congregations. This was a terrible blow to the dedicated members at Riverdale, who had done much good work in the past. After much prayer, the Riverdale elders approached the Fayetteville congregation with the possibility of merging the two congregations. This idea was welcomed with open arms, and in many ways the Fayetteville church got the better end of the merger, gaining an experienced preacher and elders as well as many good hard-working deacons and members.
When the property on Highway 85 North was sold, the church was able to make an agreement with the purchaser to permit the salvage the existing fellowship hall. This building was then reconstructed on property the Fayetteville church had helped to purchase for the Palmetto congregation.
At the turn of the century, the Fayetteville church had many blessings for which to be thankful. Construction was underway on new facilities located at 870 Redwine Road, and the work of the congregation was moving forward both locally and on mission fields in various parts of the world. The church celebrated the 50th anniversary in 2005. We believe that this congregation has made an impact in Fayette county that honors our Lord. As noted, before 1955 there was not a church of Christ to be found in Fayette County: Today, there are four congregations who call themselves by the name church of Christ. Our work is not over yet. The fields are still “WHITE UNTO HARVEST.”