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Posted: October 2, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Church expansion ‘a dream come true’

New Hope Baptist procures land for expansion, just in time for anniversary

Photo by Brittany Thomas/

The church will be celebrating its anniversary on Nov. 15

Founded in 1897, the historic New Hope Baptist Church located on the corner of Brown and Ivy streets has been a beacon of hope, love, compassion and faith. The church was planted by a group of people from Bethlehem Baptist Church who felt there was a need for a church in the Harristown Community. Today, it continues to be a ministry that is not about religion, but about a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In recent years, the appearance and location of New Hope Baptist Church caught the eyes of movie producers. The church, pastor and choir members were featured in the film, "Remember the Titans," starring Denzel Washington. It was also used extensively in the Hallmark movie, "A Resting Place."

The Rev. Harold Miller Jr. and his wife, Pastor Margie Miller, have served New Hope Baptist Church since January 1999. God created a desire in their hearts for expansion - to add a facility that would serve the church and the needs of the community.

Although the church has been land-locked and unable to expand because of the homes surrounding the church, the members continued to pray and fast, believing that God would provide a way. Recently, when plans to develop the adjoining property fell through, New Hope seized the opportunity to purchase seven lots and closed on the sale Sept. 23.

"It is a dream come true," said Miller. "We need the property for expansion and breathing room. Every time we have a big function, we have to rent a facility."

November will be a month of celebration for New Hope as they gear up for revival on Nov. 11-13 - followed by their anniversary service on Nov. 15. Plans are to dedicate the new property that weekend. Over the next several weeks, Deacon Robert Clark said that he and Deacons Calvin Williams and Henry Duncan will be busy clearing the property of underbrush and small trees and planting grass.

In an effort to raise funds for the project, New Hope will sponsor a Horseshoe Tournament in October and will offer an opportunity for businesses to purchase advertisement space on the anniversary program.

"I'm excited about the expansion," said Clark, who is anxious to provide activities for children and teens in the community. "I would like to see an outreach program for Harristown and the entire city."

Still majoring on discipleship and kingdom building, the church has adopted their motto: "Providing New Hope for Harristown, Covington, Newton County, and the world." The land purchased will help to facilitate this vision.

"There is a lot of potential here for people to grow in faith and grow in ministry," said the pastor. "You ride around and see people with no hope. We want to provide hope and inspiration."
New Hope has added a sound system, modernized the office and upgraded their computer system. During the next two years, plans include building a multipurpose family life center that will serve the church and community. The center will include banquet and meeting rooms, a gym, a daycare center and a computer lab for school-aged children to do their homework. These plans support their five-fold purpose: evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, worship and ministry.

Rather than preach "fire and brimstone," Miller said God transformed his ministry to show the lost how to escape hell.

"Our job as a church and body of Christ is to provide that spiritual undergirding - that spiritual connection," explained Miller. "So often, churches get caught up trying to provide the same services as the welfare department. At New Hope Baptist, we specialize in only what we can do - helping people get right spirituality. Everything else will fall into place."

Miller received a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Mississippi College. In May, Miller completed a Master of Divinity from Luther Rice Seminary. Pastor Margie Miller earned a Master in Biblical Studies. Margie is back in school working on a Master of Divinity.

"I preach all the time that God is not restricted by the American economy," said Miller optimistically. "We short change ourselves when we look at circumstances. God turned everything for our good. I am so thankful that we were positioned in the right place so God could do that."


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