Tradition and new leadership are merging together at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.
A fall revival was held this week at the church, where families enjoyed guest speakers, singing and fellowship.
Nightly services were held Wednesday through Thursday. The theme of this year’s revival at Wesley Chapel was, “Building up one another.”
Guest revivalists included the Rev. Dr. Theophilus Stanford, pastor of Glen Haven UMC in Decatur; the Rev. Kevin Daniels, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church of Watkinsville; and the Rev. Matt Murphy, pastor of Grace UMC in Covington.
As the church fellowshipped with other churches from around the area, Wesley Chapel’s pastor, the Rev. Eric Powell, and two of the church’s seasoned members, Tully Bostick and Lottie Johnson, took the time to share the history of the ministry and its future.
Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church celebrated being in existence for 122 years in March. The original church was purchased in 1891 for $15, with predominately African-American members attending services.
The Rev. Powell and his wife Paula came to the church in June. Powell said that, as Wesley Chapel’s new leader, he has been tasked with working with church members to develop a new mission for the ministry.
Bostick has been a member since 1952 and Johnson joined in 1954, following her late husband, Horace Johnson Sr., who passed away in 1978.
Bostick and Johnson said when they joined the church in the 1950s the ministry had 50 or more members who were passionate about the church.
“We had very determined, very dedicated people that would work for any project that we set forth,” Bostick said.
Over the years, Johnson said members moved on as they built families or as members passed away. The church now has 30 or so members and is looking to make a difference in the community with new leadership.
Powell said he has found the congregation of Wesley Chapel to be very traditional, but willing to evolve with what God wants the church to be.
“There’s a lot of determination, there’s a lot of spirituality here and my goal is to capitalize on that and to share that enthusiasm with some new people,” Powell said.
“(Members) were very adamant in saying they were not interested in closing the church and merging with another church. They wanted to stay the way they were because they felt that they still had a lot of ministry to do. I came in and saw that,” he said.
“So, I’m kind of the heir of the embers to make the embers a flame again, and I think that we are well on our way to that.”
Powell said the goal of the ministry is to reach out to as much of the community as it can.
Through the years, the church has held Vacation Bible School during the summer for youth and fed the hungry with food drives. However, Powell said the ministry is looking to broaden its presence in the community by partnering up with an elementary school in Porterdale.
As the annual revival was held at the church this week, Powell said services have been focused on the teachings of lifting each other up. He explained that it goes hand-in-hand with the overall goal of the church.
“We’re encouraging the members to continue to encourage and support one another up, to build and lift one another up. Stressing the point that everybody has a function … with (members) being older, what I’ve shared with them is that virtually their responsibility now has gone from being the workers and the doers to being the advisers and the consultants,” he said.
“Our goal is to bring in younger people, to bring in families and we anticipate these families will be (without a church) and they are going to come in with a great enthusiasm,” Rev. Powell said.
“So, we’re going take the zeal and the youth of the younger ones and match it up with the seasoned spiritual maturity of the older ones.”
Services at Wesley United Methodist Church, 12649 Ga. Highway 36, are held first and third Sundays at 9 a.m.; and second and fourth Sundays at 11 a.m. Sunday school at the church is held every Sunday at 10 a.m.