The Founding of Springfield Baptist Church (SBC)
SBC was founded during the turbulent post civil war period in American History when Union occupation of southern states had come to an abrupt end. This period of post war politics saw African Americans losing ground in the struggle for education and human rights as southern leaders sought to restore “old south” traditions and ideology. Against the backdrop of this formidable struggle, former slaves began to call on the name of the Lord on the banks of the Yellow River, laying the foundation for what we now affectionately call Springfield. SBC of Covington/Conyers, Georgia, was organized by Rev. Joe Sims. They met one Sunday per month and served as the spiritual tabernacle for former slaves and sharecroppers in Newton County, Georgia.
The Yellow River Missionary Baptist Association was organized at the SBC. For the greater part of a century, the Yellow River Missionary Baptist Association was the premier regional convocation for African American Churches throughout the eastern Metropolitan Atlanta area. Springfield provided leadership and facilitated various conventions and training sessions. What follows is a partial list of church involvement within the association: Bald Rock, Double Springs, First Shady Grove, Little Vine, Macedonia, New Hope, St. Paul, Union and Union Springs Baptist Churches.
1940's - 1960's
The Family Church: Springfield Baptist Church During The Modern Era
SBC, under the leadership of Pastor T.D. Dorsey, continued to meet one Sunday per month at its Harold Dobbs Road location. The wood frame building was a primary resource for Newton County residents. In 1941, SBC housed the segregated public school for African American residents. The school's first teacher, Mrs. Leida Parker, served the one room schoolhouse until 1951. Children from primary school through eighth grade walked for miles year round to attend the school.
During this same period, SBC continued the practice of observing outdoor baptisms in natural reservoirs. Candidates for baptism were dressed in white and marched from the SBC (prior to the construction of Interstate 20) along the front of the old train station, down the road to the Yellow River. Baptisms were also conducted at the Dobbs pond adjacent to the "Big White House" on Harold Dobbs Road. Pastor Dorsey led Springfield for approximately 30 years. Rev. James Brown served as the interim-Pastor for several years following the illness and death of Pastor Dorsey During the mid 1960s, Pastor A.L. Weaver assumed the leadership of the SBC.
1970's - 1980's
During the administration of Pastor Weaver, SBC experienced sufficient growth to enable the implementation of several capitol improvements. Springfield began to worship two times per month. The old wood-framed Church house on Harold Dobbs road was bricked-in for preservation and aesthetic beauty. A public address (PA) system was installed along with padded pews.
In 1983, the Springfield Baptist Church called Pastor C. H. Glover as its leader. During this period, the SBC experienced phenomenal growth and expanded our capacity to serve our community. During his more than 15-year tenure, Pastor Glover established a foundation, spiritually and physically, on which we are all beneficiaries. This era saw SBC's music ministry gain notoriety throughout the community with the addition of Bro. Sidney Hill to our music ministry. Four years into his pastorate, in September of 1987, Pastor Glover moved the SBC location from Harold Dobbs Road to its next location at the 500 seat sanctuary at 1120 Crowell Road.
In addition, under Pastor Glover's leadership, SBC initiated several ministries that include the expansion of Sunday School Classes, Bible Study, Sunday Services held four times per month, and expansion of all Church ministries (Children, Youth, Multiple Usher's Boards, Deacon's Board, Ministers, Music, Choirs, Pastor's Aid, Nurses Guild, and the Mother's Board). Among these successes was the creation of an Outreach initiative that included a Food and Clothes Pantry for members of the community.
1999 - 2003
The Community Church: New Leadership For The New Millennium
At the conclusion of Pastor Glover's tenure, SBC went five months without pastoral leadership. On May 14, 1999, SBC elected Pastor Eric Wendel Lee, Sr., as its chosen leader. Under his leadership, SBC continues to nurture the spiritual development of its members. Adopting the theme, "Proclaiming & Explaining The Gospel Of Jesus Christ", SBC strives to focus its efforts on Christian education that seeks to apply the standard of Christ to every component of our individual and collective lives. Under Pastor Lee's leadership, SBC adopted a mission and vision statement in September of 1999 that acknowledges our goal to be a Christ-centered resource for spiritual development for our members and the greater community.
Since his election and installation in July of 1999, SBC has experienced explosive growth.
By January of 2000, the new millennium presented the inroads for full-time ministry at Springfield. Pastor Lee's leadership was promoted to full-time made possible by the sacrifices and commitment of the SBC congregation. Pastor Lee's full-time facilitation of God's vision for Church growth outlines our optimism for a joyous future in God's service for God's people. Within two years of Pastor Lee's leadership, the SBC grew from 162 members to over 500. The evidence of growth was also reflected in the Church's annual budget. In May of 2001, SBC instituted both an 8:00 AM & 11:00 AM worship service to continue to facilitate growth. SBC had expanded to seventeen ministries with the addition of fulltime staff. In May, 2002 Springfield Christian Academy opened providing services for preschool day care and afterschool services for members and the community.
The Corporate Church: Carrying Out The Kingdom Agenda
2004, SBC celebrated its 125th anniversary and the purchase of 38 acres of land at Sockwell & Cook Road in Oxford, Georgia as the future site for a new Kingdom campus. During its September anniversary, SBC celebrated with a 1.5 mille walk to the new property, cookout, fireworks display and a Sunday morning worship service on September 26, 2004. The land was purchased from a Pentecostal Pastor, Rev. Leroy Doughty, whose family had held the land for more than 35 years. Sensing the move of God, Pastor Doughty offered the purchase of the land to SBC after a 30 minute conversation with Pastor Lee. Pastor Doughty passed away in December of 2005, yet we are eternally grateful for his faithfulness to the Vision God has given to this ministry.
At the conclusion of 2004, SBC struggled for space to address short term growth. On December 26, 2004, Springfield began a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Conyers, GA to accommodate a third worship service. By June of 2005, it was apparent that more space would be needed. In September of 2005, SBC entered into contract to purchase an existing 49,000 square foot church facility at 3001 Old Salem Road in Conyers, Georgia, positioned on 8.89 acres of land. SBC was given 90 days to raise $500,000 for the down payment on $3.5 million purchase. On November 30, 2005, SBC completed the sale of the building. The Mainstreet Bank of Covington, SBC’s bank for more than 30 years, approved the $3 million loan, the largest loan to any house of worship in the history of Newton County. SBC held its first worship service in its new facility on Sunday, December 25, 2005, exactly one year after expanding its worship services to three services.
Since moving in late 2005, SBC has surpassed every industry indicator that defines mega church ministry. SBC’s membership has grown to over 3,500 and now serves with 29 ministries, inclusive of Community Outreach and New Members Orientation; Men’s/Women’s and Couples/Singles Ministries; generational Ministries for Seniors, Youth (Teens), Children’s and Athletics; along with abounding Worship Ministries through Dance, Music, Drama and more, with a sensitivity toward age and gender inclusiveness as well as its’ WordWorks Christian Bookstore. In addition to the Senior Pastor, both a Children’s and Youth pastor actively serve the Kingdom Kids (children) and Joshua Generation (teens).
During its Centitrigentennial (130th anniversary) in September of 2009, SBC began a three year capital stewardship campaign entitled G.L.O.R.Y (Giving, Leading, Order, Risking, Yielding). More than $2.3 million have been pledged toward the construction of a new sanctuary that will continue to facilitate church growth for generations to come.
Approximately one year later, the Lord enlarged SBC’s territory once again. As a consequence of the worldwide economic travail, a 32 acre track in the most visible and accessible place within our community was made available at reduced price. True to SBC historical service to both Rockdale and Newton counties, the parcel of land includes 23 acres in Rockdale and 9 acres in Newton. This move of God was received as a manifestation of the faith established during the beginning of the G.L.O.R.Y. campaign. On September 10, 2010, SBC purchased the additional 32 acres, which will be the site of the new Springfield Worship Center. The 38 acre track, approximately 3.5 miles away will house the Springfield Activity Center for recreation and fellowship.
Please check back as we continue to make history in the not to distant future!