Since its founding more than 100 years ago, the church on Shallowford Road has witnessed the rural countryside around it transform into a heavily populated suburban mecca of sizeable homes, office parks and sport utility vehicles. But through the change, members remain focused on worship.
Last Sunday, they and their family and friends celebrated Harmony Grove’s 116th anniversary with an old-fashioned homecoming worship service packed with singing, preaching, history and loads of fried chicken at a following luncheon.
“We sent out letters to all of those who used to be members, connected family, and we had a committee that worked on all of this that has done a fantastic job,” said Pastor Charles Walker. “Some of these people haven’t seen each other in many years.”
Many of Harmony Grove’s historical records up to 1919 burned in a fire whose origin remains a mystery. But the church was later rebuilt in the midst of the Great Depression. The present building just off Johnson Ferry Road was erected in 1964.
Walker became pastor of Harmony Grove for the second time last fall. He previously led the church from the late 1970s to early 1980s.
Longevity is something that runs deep at Harmony Grove. Longtime member Archie West and his family were surprised with a portrait of his grandfather, the Rev. W.W. West, who served as the first pastor of the church. Five generations of the West family are buried in the church’s cemetery.
“I didn’t know,” he said afterwards of the surprise.
J.W. “Red” Childress, 89, is another longtime member whose father, W.D. Childress, served as pastor in the 1930s and 1950s. Much has changed since then except the church’s primarily mission, he said.
“The intent on serving the Lord is the same as when I came here 61 years ago,” said Childress.