Peachtree Baptist celebrates 25th anniversary

Sun News correspondentNovember 6, 2013 

Lawrence Wright and Sherry Inman work with Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes Peachtree Baptist Church is beginning to collect for Christmas distribution.

BYRON -- Peachtree Baptist Church celebrated its 25th anniversary Sunday with a homecoming celebration featuring the Warren family leading worship, dinner on the grounds and an all-ages, all-genders softball game.

The church even had a golf scramble at Pine Needles Golf Course in Fort Valley on Saturday.

Church leaders said Peachtree Baptist started in 1988 when Bo Stanley became the associational missionary for the area’s Rehoboth Baptist Association and encouraged several church starts. Phil and Martha Price were initial organizers for the church and its six or seven families.

The small congregation met in an old farmhouse offered by William Gatliff, just west of the church’s current location about 1.5 miles west of Interstate 75.

“I remember Phil and I were working in the same office at Robins Air Force Base,” said Lawrence Wright, a member, deacon, Sunday School director and teacher since near the church’s beginning.

Peachtree is without a pastor and in the process of seeking one. Since its beginning, Peachtree has had three full-time pastors, the Revs. George Grimes, Sam Waldron and Jay Lauretsen.

“I was Sunday School director at another church, and Phil asked me if we had any extra literature,” Wright said. “I told him we did, and we’d be happy to give them some to help them get started.”

Along with others in the area, Wright and his wife, Marlene, visited the church out of curiosity and found themselves staying.

“One Sunday morning, we came, and they didn’t have a Sunday School teacher,” Wright said. “They asked if I could teach, and I said if you can find something to do for five minutes while I look over the lesson I’ll do it. We got more and more involved, became members and have been here ever since.”

Wright said meetings in the farmhouse turned into meetings in a mobile chapel -- a doublewide mobile home loaned to them by the Southern Baptist Convention. He said in 1993 they built the first phase of their current building on new property.

“This is where God stepped in,” Wright said. “We’d saved money but didn’t have enough to build. We heard about a group of framers called Baptist Builders from Alabama. They showed up on a Friday and by Saturday night about 100 of us got walls up and the building dried in. A local shingling crew happened by and said they’d put on the shingles. A guy from South Carolina came down and did wiring and electrical work and a brick crew from Charlotte laid all the brick.”

Wright said they moved into what was a facility probably worth $100,000 debt free.

In 2001, he said the church added a new sanctuary and additional classrooms, again with the help of local and distant volunteers.

Through the years, Wright said the purpose of the church has remained the same: To come together to worship the savior; enjoy the fellowship of God’s family; grow more like Jesus; serve others through the power of the Holy Spirit; and go into the world to make fully devoted followers of Christ.

“There’s one thing that really stands out to me,” Wright said. “We have our Annie Armstrong Easter offerings and Lottie Moon Christmas offerings for missions and have a lot of other opportunities to give to others. I believe this is the giving-est church I’ve ever seen. It’s been recognized by the Georgia Baptist Convention as a top giving church per number of members, and that’s just the kind of church it is -- ready to give, ready to go whenever we can and help people who need it.”

Wright said in many ways, Peachtree is still just a county church sticking close to its roots.

“It’s been 25 years now, and it’s been very rewarding,” he said. “It’s a learning experience every time you come. There are lots of people who do lots of things to keep the church going, and there are a lot of people stepping up in new ways now that we’re needing to find a pastor. We’ve crossed paths with so many people through the years, and you have to consider it a real blessing to know them and to be able to serve the Lord with them.”

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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