Members of Good Hope Baptist Church, located at 1142 Highway 162 South in Covington, will celebrate the church's 100th anniversary this week.
The combined church choirs along with other members of the music ministry will present a special concert, dance and drama to kick off the 100th anniversary celebration at Good Hope Baptist Church in Covington next week.
Good Hope's centennial weekend begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 18 with performances by the church's music ministry and concludes the following Sunday with an afternoon service featuring special guests.
The community is invited to join the celebration, said the Rev. Eddie James Tomlinson, senior pastor of the church located at 1142 Ga. Highway 162 S. in Covington. Tomlinson and his wife Stephanie have served the congregation for 30 years. They are the parents of one son, Cornelius, who is a college junior in North Carolina.
The Rev. Quintin Fretwell, music minister at Good Hope, will lead the weekend's musical offerings including special singing, as well as piano, drums, guitar and organ. Fretwell has been an organist for more than 35 years.
Good Hope Baptist Church was started in 1912, by the Rev. L.T. Johnson during whose tenure the first church building was constructed on the property. Since its founding, there have been 11 other pastors who have led the congregation.
The second church building was erected in 1950, with the current sanctuary having been built in 1987.
"The Lord has blessed us," Tomlinson said.
Good Hope Baptist began as a family church and grew to include additional families in the area until it has now become a place of worship for people throughout the community.
Today Good Hope Baptist has a membership of around 400 people. The pastor praises his congregation and said there are a "lot of good people at Good Hope."
Following Friday night's kickoff, the centennial celebration continues May 19, with a Community Barbecue and History Day at 2 p.m. The pastor said the church is inviting Spring Hill and surrounding areas to join Good Hope that afternoon for a community-wide fellowship.
"We want them to come celebrate with us with good food, fun and good conversation," Tomlinson said. "All that is free."
On Sunday morning, the favorite color chosen by the church for that day will be purple as everyone celebrates the church anniversary during a worship and communion service at 11 a.m., followed by lunch on the grounds.
A special centennial service will be held at 3 p.m., with special guests to include the Rev. E.W. Lee and Shiloh Baptist Church of McDonough.
Shiloh Baptist Church is Tomlinson's former home church. A native of McDonough, the pastor graduated from Henry County schools and Fort Valley State University. He was 24 years old when he got the call into the ministry and at the age of 25, he became pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church.
For 24 years, he served a second congregation simultaneously as pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church in Henry County.
Organized May 19, 1912, Good Hope Baptist Church is among the oldest of Newton County's houses of worship. Citing principles set forth by the church's forefathers, Good Hope Baptist has adopted the motto of "Teaching the Gospel, Transforming Minds, Sharing Hope and Ministering to the Needs of the People."
Services are held on Sundays at 11 a.m. with early morning worship offered on the second and fourth Sundays each month at 8 a.m.
"We are excited about the celebration and about the coming events that are going to be taking place," Tomlinson said. "We're excited about celebrating 100 years."
He said the church will also recognize its oldest member, Evelyn Sims, who is in her 90s.
Good Hope Baptist is part of the Newton County Mission Association, an organization that involves many churches in the community in mission activities, particularly helping sick and homebound residents.
In addition, Good Hope also has a number of church-wide ministries designed to help men, women, youth and children of all ages, including a scholarship committee that helps high school graduates with a small donation toward their college tuition.
"My whole philosophy on preaching is that if I can relate to an individual in four areas of their lives -- spiritually, physically, mentally and financially -- if we can cover those four areas of your life, we can help you," said Tomlinson.
Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Lawrenceville. If you have a religion story idea, email features editor Karen J. Rohr at email@example.com.