Next month will mark the 129th anniversary of Sims Chapel Baptist Church. In the early years, the brush harbor ministry was known as Series Baptist Church. The Sims family donated property on Highway 142 in Covington and the name changed to Sims Chapel. The church has survived and thrived over the years as its people gave sacrificially.
The Rev. Cecil Rozier, senior pastor of Sims Chapel Baptist Church, was raised by his grandmother, Mary Harris. As a small lad, he remembers sitting on the mourner’s bench and telling people that he would be a pastor someday.
Rozier graduated from Newton County High School in 1980. He studied law enforcement in San Antonio for a brief period of time before serving in the Army for six years.
Rozier’s wife Tracy is a nurse, and they have eight children — Brandon, Dana, Cecil Jr., Ketadra, Rosandra, Kenisha, San Marten and Xavier and are raising their grandson Solomon.
In 1989, Rozier rededicated his life to Christ and accepted the call to the ministry in 1990. The late Rev. Calvin English mentored Rozier and asked him to preach his trial sermon in 1991.
"All we have here at Sims Chapel is because of God’s grace and the Rev. English," said Rozier as he glanced at his former pastor’s picture. "He always told me, ‘Son, if you start something right, it will end right.’"
Rozier served as pastor at Rock Creek Baptist Church and as associate pastor at Sims Chapel before becoming senior pastor in 2002.
"When I came back to Sims Chapel, the church was financially strapped," recalled Rozier. "I saw how God moved through the people and opened their hearts. By making two payments a month, we paid off a 30 year mortgage in 15 years."
Now averaging 200 in attendance, the church has established a building fund and is praying and searching for land on which to build a new edifice. The community is invited to attend and support their fundraiser Saturday, Sept. 5. In addition to baked goods and yard sale items, diabetes testing will be offered. All proceeds will go toward their building fund.
Rozier added three associate ministers to his team and is looking for an interested person to lead their growing youth population.
The Rev. Samuel Lee has served with Rozier for the past six years and leads the Hour of Power Bible study on Thursdays at 7 p.m.
"This church is vibrant," said Lee as he described ways they are reaching into the community. "We’re here to minister to the whole person in every capacity necessary to the healing of the mind, body and soul. People need to know there is a God that provides all needs."
The Rev. William Brooks, long time friend of Rozier, came on board four months ago and has been in the ministry for 16 years.
"We are a growing church and usually have someone to join every Sunday," said Brooks. "There is a lot of love here in this church. We are a close knit family — when one hurts, we all hurt."
The Rev. Eddie Glover has served for the past three years and directs the Sunday school.
"We do our very best here at Sims to set a good example before our young, our adults and our mothers," said Glover. "To set a good example, we have got to know about the word of God and know how to live, talk and treat people. This ministerial staff does that. I am sure that is one of the reasons why this church is being highly blessed."
In addition to Secretary Mary Smith and Chester Benton who serves as president of the Advisory Board, Rozier recognized other dedicated workers including Mae Frank Stodghill, Deacon Melvin Clark and Mother Emma Allen, the church historian.
Next month, the church will offer cakes, games and "trunk-or-treats on Hallelujah Night" as a safe alternative to Halloween.
"When we open our hands to give, God can replenish back into our hands," said Rozier as he expressed the church’s desire to be caring, giving and a blessing to others.
Sunday school is offered at 9:45 a.m. followed by worship at 11:15 a.m. For more information, call (770) 787-6865 or Pastor Rozier at (678) 314-9390.