To kick off their 150th anniversary celebration, Conyers Presbyterian Church members will make a pilgrimage back to their roots at Smyrna Presbyterian Church on July 25.
A joint congregation worship service will be held starting at 10:30 a.m. "Our presence in worship with them is our visible expression of thanksgiving for a bold vision of planting a church so many years ago," said CPC’s Reverend Tom Sparks.
According to church historian Jim Stanford, the church began on July 28, 1860, when 27 Smyrna Presbyterian members forged a new congregation close to their home in the newer community of Conyers that had sprung up around the railroad. Though located today in a stately stone and stained glass building on Main Street, the original building was a wooden structure near the present Post Office on Green Street on land donated by Mrs. Sarah D. O’Kelley.
It was an inauspicious beginning nine months before the Civil War. Their sanctuary was spared from Sherman’s torches, but early church records were lost when they were hidden from Union troops. In 1880, the church moved to Main Street under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Henry Quigg. During this period, a joint temperance revival with First United Methodist led to Conyers’ "railroad element" — saloons and brothels — being voted out of town.
The present sanctuary was completed in 1918, and the stained glass centerpiece portraying the parable of the sower by German artist F.C. Fisher was dedicated to Dr. Quigg. From this building, the modern church, made up of about 400 members, launches their ministries such as Boy Scouts, Clothes Closet, Emergency Fund and Food Bank. "Born in the darkest hour of our nation’s history, surviving wars, depressions and change, Conyers Presbyterian Church looks forward to our future," said Stanford.
Pastor Tom Sparks said in the last year or so the church has been taking a good look at their place in the community and re-defining their mission.
Their current vision is centered on "sowing the seeds of hope and growing strong in Christ. We’re trying to be more intentional about reaching into the neighborhoods around the church and building connections," said Sparks. In addition to providing space for many community groups like The Care and Counseling Center, a group of 20 members are "Book Buddies" and assist with the reading program at Pine Street Elementary.
During next Sunday’s service, both choirs will perform three anthems together accompanied by a brass quartet and bells. Members from both churches will serve as ushers and nursery workers. Smyrna’s the Rev. Mike Sorrell asked his congregation to park in the east lot and on the campgrounds, allowing CPC’s members to use the main lot. Golf carts will be available to assist those in need. Offerings should be designated to members’ home churches. Undesignated monies will be equally divided between Lighthouse Village and Rockdale Emergency Relief. A luncheon will be provided afterwards, and salad and dessert contributions must be brought to the dining hall on Saturday, July 24, between 1 and 4 p.m.
Smyrna Presbyterian is located at 2920 Hwy 212 SW in Conyers. For more information, visit www.conyerspres.org or www.smyrnapc.com or call (770) 929-0700 or (770) 483-8962.