Mansfield Baptist Celebrates 100th anniversary

Proctor & Gamble had just unveiled its Crisco shortening while the first transcontinental airplane flight safely landed in California from its launch in New York when at the corner of Highway 11 and 3rd Avenue, a group of believers gathered to worship God and constitute Mansfield Baptist Church.

The year was 1911 and while much has changed in the past century, the church that began in the heart of Mansfield is still worshiping God and ready to celebrate its centennial anniversary with a two-day event featuring food, fellowship, reminiscing and preaching.

Beginning Saturday, Nov. 12, Mansfield Baptist Church will kick off its 100th birthday with a free chicken barbecue and an afternoon of music beginning at 4 and continuing to 7 p.m. The special weekend concludes Sunday, Nov. 13, with a worship service at 11 a.m.

"It will be a typical worship service, but we'll look back a little bit and also where we're going from here," Mansfield's pastor Dr. Jeff Perkins said. "We'll also have representatives from the Stone Mountain Baptist Association and the Georgia Baptist Convention that Sunday."

The church will also offer Sunday School that morning at 9:45 a.m.

The pastor said the congregation hopes all present and former members will come and take part in the festivities, as well as all friends of the church.

"We have the privilege of building upon what those who have gone before us have done," the pastor said of Mansfield Baptist's heritage.

"This church has been faithful in serving the Lord and reaching out to and making a difference in this community and the east side of Newton County...We have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us as we look forward to what God has in store for us now and in the future."

For almost 95 years, Mansfield Baptist Church was located at the corner of Main Street/Highway 11 and 3rd Avenue in Mansfield, but in 2006, the church relocated to a new 21-acre campus at 101 Woodlawn Road, just a short distance away from its original site.

The church's 20,000-square-foot facility includes a sanctuary, educational space, offices and "children's facilities that are awesome," the pastor said.

"This is a church made up of families who love the Lord and love the community," Perkins said. "We are striving to make a difference for the Lord's kingdom here where we are and we also do things through our giving and our going to impact literally around the world."

Sunday School usually has around 200 in attendance with 230 to 250 attending worship on Sunday mornings at Mansfield Baptist. There are programs for "bed babies through senior adults," the pastor said, adding that the church has a good number of young married couples with children and a "great group of senior adults."

As for worship style, Perkins said Mansfield is "pretty blended."

"We still sing some of the great old hymns of the faith, but we also utilize some of the newer stuff as well," he said. "We have a choir in worship and a praise band."

Perkins has served as senior pastor of Mansfield Baptist Church since October 1996. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Oklahoma Baptist University, master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate in ministry from the New Orleans seminary.

He and his wife, Lisa, a teacher, are the parents of Dalton, a high school senior and Davis, an eighth-grader.

A native of Dallas, Tex., Perkins came to Georgia after college for a summer intern job with a church in Newnan.

He has been in Georgia ever since, having left the First Baptist Church of Newnan for Britt David Baptist Church in Columbus where he served as associate pastor and minister of youth for five years before coming to Mansfield Baptist Church.

"We are a church that is sharing the love of Christ and shaping disciples," Perkins said.

"We would love to have the opportunity to impact people's spiritual lives with the love of Christ. We strive to minister in any way we can to families and folks who are struggling or folks just seeking the Lord."

Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Snellville. If you have a story idea, email Karen Rohr, features editor, at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com.