|Written by Historian|
The story of Cornerstone United Methodist Church begins in the 1980’s with the purchase of twelve acres of land at the intersection of Highways 34 and 154 in Coweta County by the New Church Development Committee of the North Georgia Conference. The committee foresaw the future need for a new congregation in this area between Newnan and Peachtree City, and Palmetto and Sharpsburg. The need to start the church development process became apparent due to growth in this area during the late 1980’s and the projections for the 1990’s.
In June 1991, Dr. Alton H. McEachern was appointed as pastor of the new church to be developed. With no congregation or meeting facility, he and his wife Virginia accepted the challenge of building, first, a congregation, and then a meeting facility on the 12-acre site. By July interested prospective members were meeting informally in homes until the 7th Day Adventist Church on Highway 34 East became available for use on Sundays. Once a regular meeting place was available, growth was rapid— increasing the membership of 45 in September 1991 to over 100 by March 1992. At that time, Bishop Earnest Fitzgerald officially constituted the congregation as Cornerstone United Methodist Church.
In June of ‘93, the congregation moved to East Coweta High School— having rapidly outgrown the 7th Day Adventist’s facility. Growth in the area continued to support an increase in church membership, and the need for a permanent church home became urgent. Back in ‘91 the first funds for a future building program were given at a fish fry hosted by Warren and Evelyn Leverette at their home. Now, a major effort would be required to initiate building. A building fund program was started called “Together we Build”. This program was for giving above and beyond a member’s regular support and was for a 30-month period covering three taxable income years. Support was strong, and while building funds accumulated, plans were developed and financing arrangements made to commence construction.
In May 1992 the first Bar-B-Q fund raising event was held on Highway 34 near the Belk Shopping Center. The proceeds of this event— which is now an annual event— generated considerable income for the initial, and subsequent, building programs.
In 1993 after securing district approval, a contract was let for a Celebration Center, narthex and education building. Due to skyrocketing construction costs caused by the upcoming 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the project was scaled down, and a modified Celebration Center/multi-purpose building was constructed. The first service was held in the new building in November 1995.
The congregation continued to expand and space for Sunday School classes was more critical each week— with some adult classes meeting off-site in commercial buildings near the church. Another building fund program was instituted and “Together We Build II” received generous support from the membership. A strong giving commitment, and funds from the sale of right-of-way to the Georgia DOT for the upgrade of Highway 34, allowed a contract to be let for the construction of an education building in 1996. The new building was completed and occupied in July 1997. The membership had increased to over 400 by this time.
The growing number of junior and senior high students created the need for a more focused effort on their spiritual needs. In 1996 Jenni Horne was hired part-time as Youth Director. She developed programs and activities that enhanced the youth’s spiritual growth and participation in church activities over the following two years. The success of this effort, and the continued increase in youth participation, generated the need to hire a full-time director.
In August 1998, Mr. Brian Loper was added full-time to the church staff as head of the youth ministry program. The congregation continued to grow with a number of young adults and their children making up a substantial percentage of the membership.
Dr. McEachern retired in June 1999, and Dr. David Campbell was appointed to continue to guide Cornerstone United Methodist Church in doing God’s work in the community it serves, a church family in every sense of the word.
In September 1999, the CornerstoneKids Preschool opened under the directorship of Kathi Noreika. Starting with 10 two-year-olds and two teachers, the school has since grown to 120 students with 15 teachers, including a music teacher. The preschool continues to maintain an excellent reputation throughout Coweta County due to its well qualified teaching staff and programming.
In March 2000, Cornerstone changed its organizational structure at a church conference to an Administrative Council/Council of Ministries structure in order to give greater emphasis and support to the ministries of the church.
Mike Peevy was hired in 2000 as Director of Music and Adult Studies. Under his leadership the adult choir, youth choirs, bell choir, praise band and many other church programs greatly enhanced the total worship experience of our congregation.
In 2001 we initiated our most recent building addition to provide much needed space for Sunday School classes and additional space for our preschool program. Looking ahead to our next building program, we also built a narthex to connect our current buildings together, and to provide needed fellowship space for our congregation to gather before and after the Sunday worship services. With this addition, our facilities meet the current needs of our congregation and also supports our community outreach efforts by providing a meeting place for many organizations, activities and programs.
In April 2002 the church and staff welcomed Janet Pouelsen as our new church secretary with duties too numerous to mention. Her cheerful, helpful voice greets everyone who calls the church. Recently her position title was changed to Administrative Assistant.
Virginia McEachern was added to the staff July 2002 as Director of Children’s Ministries for infants through the 5th grade. Today over 100 children are regular participants in the many programs and activities under her direction. This effort requires an ongoing staff of volunteers to support infant care during services, Sunday School, children’s church, evening child care when needed, musical programs and numerous special events, as well as Vacation Bible School. The 2005 VBS had over 200 children participate. This group included over 50 children from the local community outside of our regular church fellowship. The Sunday evening program, “Faithweavers”, was started for children age 4 through 5th grade. It is based on building lasting friendships, growth in faith, service and outreach.
In August 2002 Brian Loper left Cornerstone as Minister of Students. Jason Sansbury took over this position as Director, Youth Ministries. Under his leadership the Youth Ministry focused on several key areas for growth:
In 2004 our Pastor’s Army Reserve Unit was activated, and he was called to serve as a Chaplin in Iraq for a year. During his tour of duty the church supported his efforts with Bibles and other materials. Filling in during his absence was one of our own members, retired Methodist Minister Ray King.
Today the growth of the church has generated the demand for an ever-increasing number of Sunday School classes. Eight sizeable adult classes meet on Sunday mornings, plus an evening adult class. The large number of children has generated numerous classes from preschool through 12th grade. A large number of adult volunteer teachers support the many Sunday School programs, and the need always exists for even more as new classes are formed. We are blessed to have a membership that responds when additional manpower is required to support this important work with the youth and their many programs. A nursery is provided for all Sunday School and worship services.
Utilization of our facilities has never been better. The church provides facilities for many outside organizations and activities including several Scouting programs, Alcohol Anonymous, and a variety of other community events, activities and meetings.
In June 2005, Reverend Joe Watson was assigned to Cornerstone from West Point UMC, replacing Dr. David Campbell, who moved to Trinity UMC in Rome, Georgia. Joe has quickly moved into the mainstream of our very active church. He strongly supports the renewed emphasis initiated to stress the importance of the stewardship of our members of their time, talents, gifts and service to the ministries of the church in order for us to be faithful to our obligations to God for His blessings. The strength of our stewardship drives our role in meeting the needs of our community and people in the world at large. We look forward to Joe’s enthusiastic leadership and guidance as we move aggressively into the future growth of Cornerstone with the renewed drive to be good stewards.
On Easter Sunday of 2006, the Korean United Methodist Church of Newnan began to meet in our facilities. On February 28, 2007 they broke ground for a free standing building to be built on our property for their use. This building was dedicated on July 15, 2007. This community of believers has continued to grow and soon they hope to be in a new facility on Lora Smith Road. In June of 2007 the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church awarded Cornerstone The Mother Church of the Year Award for all the help and encouragement we have given this growing congregation.
To thank Cornerstone for their continued support they have presented several programs highlighting their culture through beautiful costumes, dance and music. All who have seen these programs have been greatly blessed. In September of 2010 they presented a program for the entire community at the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts of Coweta County. A large audience from throughout the area thoroughly enjoyed the program.
The United Methodist Women (UMW) was re-established at Cornerstone on July 16, 2006 with 22 ladies attending the first meeting. The first president of this group was Mary Nell Uher, vice president was Nancy Walls, treasurer Brenda Blanton and secretary was Lynn Brown. This group continues to be a very active, vital part of Cornerstone. They have monthly meetings which are open to all women of Cornerstone. They support One Roof, Welcome House and many more needy groups around our community.
On July 14, 2006 Linda Dickerson and Susan Peevy graduated from the Congregational Nurse Preparation Course sponsored by Georgia Baptist Hospital at Mercer University, and thus began our Congregational Nurse Program. This ministry started out focusing on mainly health issues with monthly blood pressure checks, weekly walking programs and informative programs for the congregation. It’s ministry has now been expanded to one of Congregational Care. They provide casseroles and cookies for families with illness and other emergencies, make cards to send to those who need remembering in this way, make prayer shawls and blankets to give to those who are ill and need the comfort these bring. They also provide special bags at Advent, Christmas and during hospital stays with items to bring cheer and a touch of home to members of our congregation who can not always be with us at our activities. Needless to say, Linda and Susan and members of their team provide much needed love and care to all of us.
One of their much anticipated activites each year is the Breast Cancer Awareness Brunch. In the fall of 2010 Cornerstone had a team of walkers in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure. They successfully completed the walk and inspired everyone at the fall brunch with a talk about the experience.
Angela Roller started as our Youth Director in January 2007. She brought much knowledge, experience and expertise with her from Ohio and we are very grateful. During Holy Week 2007–2009 the youth presented a very meaningful walk through the Stations of the Cross. All who attended one of those years came away very blessed. Some even attended each year for this experience.
During the summers of 2007 and 2008 Cornerstone hosted a River of Life Program. Mary Elizabeth and John Tomlin coordinated this effort which took much planning and people to pull it off so successfully. In 2007 eight projects were completed throughout Coweta County and in 2008 this expanded to 13. These youth—many of whom had never even looked at a paint brush or hammer—found themselves painting houses, building steps and ramps and even putting on new roofs. Everyone connected with these activities felt a great satisfaction at the accomplishments not only of the physical work but the interaction of the different youth groups working together to the glory of God and for the common good of our area. In 2009 we had a local Stream of Life program where the youth did several projects for church members who needed their help.
The youth also have traveled to both Jamaica and Panama for mission trips in 2009 and 2010, plus other learning and helping activites which Angela has spearheaded. She has also started a drama group and in 2009 they presented Bema Chair which really was so well done and got the message across to the congregation in a very meaningful way. Angela even took this group to her home area in Ohio to present this to several churches where it was much appreciated, too.
After the retirement in December of 2006 of Virginia McEachern as Children’s Director, Laura Farmer began in this position in May of 2007. She reorganized the structure of the Sunday school to give more variety for the children instead of the traditional stay-in-one-class-with-one-teacher each week. Trunk or Treat at Halloween quickly became a popular activity for our children and the community. Karpenter’s Kids was started on Wednesday evenings.
Olive Ashley and Jenni Holt lead our preschool choir, Wee Praise, and Gail Long leads the Music Alive group of Kindergarten through 5th grade which provide music for many programs throughout the year.
In January of 2009, Dr. Al McEachern passed away following a long illness. Shortly afterwards, his widow, Virginia, moved to North Carolina to be near her daughter and her family. Cornerstone will always be grateful for the love and strong leadership given to us by them to enable us to get off to such a good start. The fact that Cornerstone continues to grow and have programs of all kinds for not only our congregation but the community is a testimony to all their hard work.
In May of 2009 we unexpectedly lost our Music Director and Adult Study Director, Mike Peevy to complications from a stroke. His presence is greatly missed by all at Cornerstone. But because of all the time and effort he provided our choirs they continue on to give glory to God each and every Sunday and many other occasions during the year.
Sue Brown has been appointed Music Director and Ken Ashley is Assistant Music Director and Adult Choir Director. Cindy Johnson has started the Handbells again and the members of that choir are appreciative of her effort as the Handbells are so much enjoyed by the congregation. With all these dedicated leaders our music program will continue to thrive and add to our worship experiences.
In June of 2009 we changed from the three services we had been having for several years to two services. The earlier service is the contemporary service and the later one is the more traditional service. Both types of services seem to be well attended and appreciated by the congregation.
Also in the summer of 2009 Cornerstone obtained a 30 passenger bus. We have four certified drivers to take our children on field trips, the youth to summer camp and elsewhere and the newly restarted Young at Heart group on many outings all over the North Georgia area.
Jennifer Doonan became the Preschool Director in the fall of 2009. This program continues to thrive. We have a current enrollment of just under 100 with 15 teachers and aides. We also have a music teacher who helps prepare special programs for Christmas and the end of the year. They have weekly chapel programs in addition to the classroom work.
In the summer of 2009 our administrative assistant, Janet Pouelsen, became a Certified Professional Administrative Assistant of the United Methodist Church. She also serves as membership secretary of our congregation of 1,000.
In July of 2010 Julie Dean became Children’s Director as Laura Farmer went back to college to work on her education certification. Julie has been Sunday school coordinator for the past two years so she has the experience to continue to lead our children into the future.
In the spring of 2010 our children presented a special musical Survivor Babylon which was directed by Sue Brown with assistance from many others. A Christmas time presentation of Angels, Lambs, Ladybugs and Fireflies was also very well done and enjoyed by an appreciative audience. Sue brings much enthusiasm and experience from many years of leading school musicals to these programs.
Cornerstone continues to have mission trips during the year. Redbird Mission in Kentucky and Honduras are the main ones we support and attend each year. Several of our members go with other groups all across the world spreading the Good News as Christ told us to do.
In September of 2010 the United Methodist Men (UMM) was restarted at Cornerstone. They are an eager group willing to help with many projects and groups throughout the congregation and community. Their first big undertaking was a Valentine dance in February, 2011. This was well attended by both members of Cornerstone and others from our community. This may become an annual event. Time will tell.
On April 27, 2011 CornerstoneKids Preschool program received an award for being a “Program of Excellence” from the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. All the staff and congregation are very proud of this accomplishment.
The summer of 2011 brings the usual activities. VBS attended by almost 200 children with 100 adult and teen helpers. Our youth are off to summer camp and some are going on the the summer music and drama camp. A first time event is a week long day camp sponsored by CornerstoneKids. All of these are looked forward to all year by the participants.
In 2011 Cornerstone is still going strong with many programs for all ages for not only our congregation but the community as well. Our annual beef barbecue continues to be our main fund raiser and is a great time for all the congregation to work together. This year marked the 20th anniversary of this event. The annual yard sale is now held two weeks before the barbecue instead of trying to do it all in one day and that is also a great team effort for our church.
In June 2011, Reverend Rick Price was assigned to Cornerstone from Clarksville United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Georgia, replacing Reverend Joe Watson, who was assigned as senior pastor of Greensboro First United Methodist Church in Greensboro, Georgia. Thus begins a new exciting part of our journey as a congregation serving as Christ’s hands and feet in a still growing community. We have much to be thankful for and much to still accomplish.
August of 2011 brought to Cornerstone another series of inspiring Sunday revival services.
On August 21, 2011 the Newnan Korean Methodist Church broke ground for their new building on Lora Smith Rd. Spring of 2012 is the target date for them to be having services in their new building. In spite of all the activities involved with building their new church the Korean Church once again brought a lovely performance of their culture, music and dance to the Newnan community at the Centre for Performing Arts in October. As usual, this was well attended and appreciated by all.
In October Cornerstone welcomed its newest member to the staff. Scott Ballentine became the new Minister of Evangelism. He is filling this position with enthusiasm and dedication. He visits our visitors and prospective new members and shut ins at Wesley Woods and in their homes. He also took part with the youth at their semi annual trip to the Trinity Soup Kitchen in Atlanta in December.
We had our usual bustle of fall and advent activities. Trunk or Treat had beautiful weather this year and the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Boxes got the biggest response in several years. The wishes of our children, youth and senior citizens in the Newnan community flew off the Angel Tree in one day and all were eagerly filled.
The children put on another great performance with Once Upon A Christmas Light which Sue Brown directed. A packed house came out to see this enthusiastic group do their usual great job.
As we close out 2011 at Cornerstone we are all looking forward to our 20th anniversary coming up in March. Hopefully we will get to reminisce with former friends and members of our congregation as well as our ongoing congregation being very ably led by Rick Price as our senior pastor.
|Last Updated on Friday, 02 March 2012 11:57|