The historic Bethabara Missionary Baptist Church Inc. is a community on a hill, both figuratively and physically. Established in May 1888, it has overlooked eight acres on Ga. Highway 36 for more than a century. A second structure was built on the same property in 1960 that currently houses the sanctuary, Sunday school rooms and administrative offices. Known as a friendly church, it has grown both spiritually and financially under the leadership of the Rev. Carl H. Jones, pastor of BMBC.
"We are working together to take the gospel to the people in our communities and to develop strong relationships where we can grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus," said Jones. "We believe that the power of the gospel will bring life altering change to all who will embrace it and receive Christ as their Savior."
The church’s motto, Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," (KJV) is exemplified in the lives of its members. This verse became a source of strength to Jones when he and his wife suffered serious health problems in 2007.
"Since I had congestive heart failure, I have found what I already knew to be true — this is a community that loves the Lord and loves people," said the pastor. "Our church is becoming very accountable to each other and to God. We are developing closeness. I truly thank God for his blessings and I am doing better."
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Jones appreciated the benefit of growing up in a Christian home as he was mentored by his father, a deacon of fifty years, and his mother, a missionary. He acknowledged God’s direction in his life at age 18 and accepted the call to preach at age 25. Jones was licensed in 1970 and ordained in 1974.
Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral administration and sociology and an evangelical teaching training certificate from Houghton College in New York. He served in the Marines from 1966 until 1972 in Vietnam and Okinawa, Japan.
A true leader and pioneer, Jones founded two churches in Buffalo — Greater St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church and Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church — and served at Revelation Baptist Church before coming to the area.
When Jones moved to Covington in December 1984, his brother-in-law introduced him to BMBC. The following March, Jones’ vision to pastor a church on a hill with a fence became a reality when he was asked to accept the role as senior pastor.
Jones was employed as a Newton County School System paraprofessional for three years and an attendance officer for 23 years. He also served as the first president for the Newton-Morgan Habitat for Humanity which originated at BMBC, worked closely with the Rev. Billy Wade to set up the food pantry and clothes closet at the First Presbyterian Church, and was the first president of the Teenage Pregnancy Task Force. He currently serves on the board of the Salvation Army and as executive secretary of the Newton County Ministers Union.
The Bethabara ministry team also consists of the Rev. Walter G. Norman Sr., associate minister, and evangelists Vickie Lynn Brown and Priscilla Ellis. Members Irene Banks and Randy Jenkins have worked to preserve the history and pictures of the church which are shown in the halls and in a dedicated memorial room.
Deacon Johnny Hubert describes BMBC as a church with good people. His daughter, Patricia Hubert, serves as Sunday School secretary and sings in the choir.
"When I was going through a lot of changes in my life, the pastor helped me and has always been there for me," she said. "This is a good, friendly church where people care about each other."
BMBC provides a range of services, including educational services through the GED program. GED preparation classes are held at the church on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. To date, they have had two graduates in the program.
The annual fall revival is underway with closing services on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. The community is also invited to attend a pre-thanksgiving service on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.
The Rev. Jones and wife, Eunice, have two children — Tiffani Carolyn and Carla Tonya German (son-in-law Augustus German, Sr.) — and two grandchildren, Augustus Jr. and DeAndre. Jones considers his wife as a strong supporter of Christian education. She is involved with the GED program and serves as Sunday school superintendent.
When asked how the health limitations have affected his life over the past year, he acknowledged how his strength in the Lord has grown tremendously, and how the community has reached out to him.
"It caused me to take a good look at life," said Jones who is spending more time at home resting. "I am using this time to seek God’s guidance."
BMBC offers its members many different outlets to serve and worship God. Sunday school begins at 9:30 a.m. on the first, second and third Sundays followed by a morning devotional at 10:45 a.m. and worship at 11 am. On the fourth Sunday, worship is held at 9 a.m. A mid-week prayer service is at 7 p.m. with a Bible study at 7:30 p.m.
Music is a blend of contemporary and traditional music accompanied by piano, drums, guitar, organ and guitar.
For more information, call 770-787-0370 or e-mail Pastor Jones at email@example.com.