Nat’l Heights celebrates 20th anniversary

Tue, 04/15/2008 - 2:15pm
By: The Citizen

Nat’l Heights celebrates ... congregation since 1872, in Fayetteville since 1988

Nat’l Heights celebrates 20th anniversary

National Heights Baptist Church will celebrate the 20th anniversary at its present location in Fayetteville this Sunday, April 20. Founded in 1872 in Northern Clayton County, National Heights has changed names and been in three different physical locations, currently some 15 miles from its original beginnings.

The church was founded as the Flat Rock Baptist Church in the fall of 1872 in the Flat Rock community of College Park. It was started by a group of farmers to meet their spiritual and educational needs in the aftermath of the Civil War.

For 99 years the church ministered and served the North Clayton area of College Park. With the expansion of Hartsfield International Airport in the late 1960s, the church community was wiped out and the airport purchased the church property in 1969.

The church relocated to Camp Road in the Old National Community in 1970, where its name was changed from Flat Rock Baptist Church to National Heights Baptist Church. It ministered there until 1985.

In 1986 an African-American congregation purchased the church facilities and the congregation relocated to its present property at Ga. Hwy. 54 and Old Norton Road in Fayetteville. Meeting at first in a large house on the property, which is now the church office building, the congregation grew and began building the present facilities, which it completed and dedicated on April 24, 1988.

During the years of transition from the North Clayton community to the Old National community to its present location in Fayetteville, the church was blessed by two long pastorates, which enabled it to maintain stability during times of change. The Rev. Thomas H. Perkins served the church for 26 years and Dr. William F. Scarbrough pastored the church for 35 years.

During the pastorates of these two men, the church came to be known for its progressive leadership. The church has been a leader in the moderate Baptist movement.

During its time in both Riverdale and Fayetteville, the church was noted for its emphasis upon the education of children through its Montessori School and Child Development Center.

For almost 20 years the church had the only state licensed church child care center in Fayette County. With the retirement of Dr. Scarbrough in 2006, the Montessori School and child development were discontinued.

The church was a founding church of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, with Dr. Scarbrough serving on both the state and national coordinating councils.

The church was also a founding church of the McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University, with Dr. Scarbrough serving on its Board of Visitors.

The church helped to start the Passport Youth Camp that has now grown into an international camping ministry to young people of several denominations.

Throughout the years the church has magnified the ministry of both men and women. Women serve as deacons within the church as well as men. Several young men and women have been ordained to the ministry through the church.

The church has had a strong, traditional music ministry. Through the years the church music ministry has sung the classic anthems and hymns of the church, including Handel’s “Messiah,” Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” and Dubois’ “The Seven Last Words.” The music ministry is under the direction of James Allen with Hugh Waddy as organist.

In January 2008, Dr. Steve deClaisse-Walford, a native of England, came to be the pastor of the church. DeClaisse-Walford and his wife Nancy, professor of Old Testament studies at McAfee School of Theology, continue the church’s strong emphasis of intelligent Bible study and strong Biblical preaching.

The community is invited to celebrate with members this Sunday as they observe the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Fayetteville facilities. Friends and former members are invited to participate in this special occasion during the morning worship service and in the following luncheon.

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