On April 3, 1983, the beginning of a new era was marked in DeKalb County, Georgia. Under the leadership of Elder Ralph B. Hairston, President of the South Atlantic Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist, the first Black Seventh-day Adventist Church in DeKalb County was organized. Elder E. W. Moore, Elder Joseph Hinson and Elder C.D. Henri were called to lead and assist the new flock. The group was originally called The United Decatur Seventh-day Adventist Church, this was later changed to "The Decatur Seventh-day Adventist Church."
The church was founded on the principal of love as stated in John 3:16-17: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." When the call went out for charter members, 118 individuals from the surrounding area churches responded and made the Decatur Seventh-day Adventist Church their new church home.
The new flock rented the church, located at 2365 Candler Road in Decatur. Under the leadership of Pastor Moore, the church launched its building fund in December of 1983, and the beautiful sanctuary was purchased in April of 1984. Over the next six years several improvements were made to the facility. Initial renovations included the restrooms and balcony, the installation of new carpeting, padding and upholstering of the church pews. The rear parking lot was extended and paved. In 1987, additional updates included a new sound system, a commercial kitchen and downstairs men's room.
While these were all wonderful advances for the young church, it was not enough. Pastor Moore and the members of the Decatur church had a heavy burden born out of their love for both their neighbors and for those less fortunate than themselves and they set out to do more.
In the church's outreach program through evangelism, the first of four Revelation Seminars was held in February of 1985. Thousands of flyers were sent throughout the surrounding neighborhoods and the people responded. These spirit-filled meetings resulted in 400 souls being added to the Decatur family, and many still studying. A number of those baptized serve as church officers today. The increased membership and a vibrant group of energetic children gave rise to the reorganization of the Decatur Survivor Pathfinder Club with 35 members. In 1987, the Drum Corp was organized. Decatur has since then maintained the largest Pathfinders and Drum Corp clubs in the conference.
Brother Harold Nesbitt out of affection and concern for those less fortunate, developed an ambitious project, dedicated to the preservation of human life and dignity. This project was called Operation Hope, a ministry to the homeless of Decatur and the surrounding Atlanta area. Operation Hope started as a day shelter in January of 1985. It grew to a fully functioning night shelter for the homeless, as well as a distribution center for food, counseling center for those in trouble, and a referral center for governmentally provided services. A transition house was purchased to aid in rehabilitation.
Under the leadership of Pastor Moore, an evangelistic crusade was conducted in the spring of 1988 by Elder 0. J. McKinney in the spring of 1988. Members of the Decatur congregation established a new church family in the Lithonia area that began worshiping in the summer of 1988. In 1990, Pastor Moore was transferred to the West End Seventh-day Adventist Church and replaced by Pastor Ernest Young. During Pastor Young's tenure the sanctuary was expanded and the congregation continued to grow. With the growth, a new department emerged in the form of our Children's Church with 60 members ages 5 - 12 years. Their services were designed to create meaningful worship experiences on their levels and to develop leadership skills in an environment that encourages participation from the young worshipers. Under the guidance of their nominated adult leaders, during their services, they usher, they preach, and they sing. Once per month their choir is scheduled by the music department to provide songs of praise during the adult worship services. Today Children's Church continues with the invigorated vibrancy of its 120 plus energetic youth contributing to the spiritual experiences at Decatur. In 1992, the Decatur congregation proudly and thankfully burned the mortgage.
In 1994, Elder C.D. Henri served as the interim pastor for three months until Pastor Melvin Preston arrived. Under Pastor Preston's leadership our church school, the Decatur Adventist Junior Academy (DAJA) was built. Currently, our school has 185 students.
In 1998, Pastor Melvin Preston was transferred to the Lithonia Seventh-day Adventist Church and Elder Robert Woodfork served as the interim pastor for six months.
Pastor William Winston became the pastor in 1998 and served for approximately two years. Under his leadership, members of the Decatur congregation planted a new sister church in Stone Mountain, Georgia which is now known as the Mountainside Seventh-day Adventist Church. The chruch was officiially established in October 1999.
In 2000, Pastor Godwin Mitchell assumed the leadership of the Decatur congregation. The motivation, efforts, and future expectation of the Decatur Church family has been to always be guided by the principal of love, resulting in a unity of faith and a positive witness to our fellow man, bringing us and others closer to Christ. After 7 years, Pastor Mitchell was called to pastor the Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. Elder Ward Sumpter served as interim pastor in 2008 until a new pastor could be identified.
In January 2009, Dr. C. Wesley Knight began his ministry as Senior Pastor of the Decatur Seventh-day Adventist Church. His pastorship ended in October 2012 when he was selected to pastor the Mount Olive Seventh Day Adventist Church in East Point, GA. Dr. W.D. Felder, a retired pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church was asked to serve as interim pastor in December 2012. The Decatur family was truly blessed to have Pastor Felder, He was a faithful servant of God and a God-led pastor of the congregation for 4 months. It is the fervent prayer of the members of the Decatur Seventh-day Adventist Church that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead and bless Dr. Felder and his family.
In April 2013, the Decatur Congregation welcomed Pastor John Nixon II and his family to Decatur. Pastor Nixon has pledged to present the living Christ through his life and ministry at Decatur and to always exalt the name of Jesus. We rejoice to have Pastor Nixon and his family as a part of our family. Our prayer is that together we will grow in God's grace. On April 27, 2013, together we entered into a covenant before God to place Christ first, to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to work together for the hastening of our Lord's soon return.
Since 1983, this small group of 118 has grown to a family of over 800 members. To God be all the Glory!
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