National Heights Baptist closing doors after 145 years; new church will open on old site


National Heights Baptist church will close on June 25, 2017. The church, located at 103 Old Norton Road in Fayetteville, will hold its final service on June 25 with a worship service at 11 a.m. and lunch to follow. A concert by The Revelations, a gospel music group, will be held at 5 p.m.

National Heights Baptist Church was founded as Flat Rock Baptist Church in the fall of 1872 in the Flat Rock community of College Park. For 99 years, the church ministered and served the North Clayton area of College Park. With the expansion of the Atlanta 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, the congregation relocated to its present property at Ga. Highway 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 Scarborough in 2006, the Montessori School and child development center were discontinued.

The church was a founding church of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and a founding church of the McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University.

The church helped 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.”

In 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 at McAfee School of Theology, continued the church’s strong emphasis of Bible study and strong Biblical preaching.

In 2011, the Rev. Barrett Owen was called as a part time pastor. He was also employed by the McAfee School of Theology.  Owen and his wife, Noelle, served the church until June, 2015.

Since 2015, the church has had several interim pastors. Dr. Brian Wright, an ordained minister and a medical student at the Mercer University School of Medicine served as did  J.W. Wallis. Wallis is a retired minister who served as pastor of McDonough Road Baptist church for many years before his retirement. He has also served as the interim pastor of several churches on the south side of Atlanta. Wallis is currently serving as the full time pastor of National Heights Baptist Church.

“The church is proud of its 145 year history of service and ministry,” a spokesperson said. “But due to declining membership and other factors, the church made the decision to close in June, 2017.”

The community is invited to celebrate the life and ministry of National Heights Baptist Church on June 25 at its final service. The morning service will be at 11 a.m. with lunch immediately following. At 5 p.m. The Revelations  will present a concert of gospel music.

On Aug. 6, a new church, The Pinecrest Church, will open on the current site of National Heights Baptist Church.

Pinecrest welcomes the community to its inauguaral service on Aug. 6. J.W. Wallis will serve as the founding pastor of The Pinecrest Church.