Har­vests at home and abroad

New­ton County church builds though one- on- one re­la­tion­ships, small groups

The Covington News - - Religion -

When the Rev. Richard Culpep­per ac­cepted the po­si­tion as se­nior pas­tor to Har­vest Bap­tist Church in May 2002 there were only a hand­ful of wor­shipers present for Sun­day morn­ing ser­vice. To­day, at­ten­dance aver­ages 250. Through Im­pact Dis­ci­ple­ship, the church be­gan to grow ex­po­nen­tially as they men­tored peo­ple one at a time and in small groups.

Larry Rose, trea­surer and chair­man of build­ing and grounds, tes­ti­fied to the ef­fec­tive­ness of the dis­ci­ple­ship pro­gram.

“There are a lot of good peo­ple here,” said Rose. “I feel closer to the Lord than I have ever felt in any other church. They re­ally take care of you. They don’t just get you in the door and for­get about you — they evan­ge­lize you through dis­ci­ple­ship groups.”

The min­istry has crossed racial, so­cial and eco­nomic lines. Culpep­per de­scribes HBC as a unique place where every­one is re­ceived, ac­cepted and min­is­tered to.

“One of my great­est joys as a pas­tor is when I hear peo­ple say, ‘You’ve got to come to our church,’” said Culpep­per. “That is the way we have grown. To the Lord’s glory, we are av­er­ag­ing 30 bap­tisms a year.”

Lo­cated at 2075 High­way 212 in Cov­ing­ton, the orig­i­nal fa­cil­ity con­structed in 1987 is debt free and houses the stu­dent wor­ship. In 2007, a new struc­ture with 21,000 square feet was built to ac­com­mo­date the sanc­tu­ary, ad­min­is­tra­tive offices and class­rooms. An ad­di­tional 7,000 square feet up­stairs will be com­pleted as needed to sup­port 18 class­rooms. Fu­ture plans are to move the main en­trance and wor­ship cen­ter to the new prop­erty ac­quired at the top of the hill.

HBC’s logo, A Light­house to the World, is ev­i­dence of their com­mit­ment to ex­pand the min­istry across the globe. They part­ner with min­istries in Rus­sia and Ja­maica. The col­lege and ca­reer class re­cently com­pleted a mis­sion trip to Poland and the Rev. Culpep­per held a cru­sade in the Philip­pines in Au­gust. Lo­cally, HBC part­ners with the Refuge Preg­nancy Cen­ter and Faith Works and started Cel­e­brate Re­cov­ery in De­cem­ber.

A na­tive of New­ton County, Culpep­per grew up in a mu­si­cal fam­ily. His fa­ther, song­writer Perry Culpep­per, min­is­ters at HBC in the sound depart­ment. An ac­com­plished mu­si­cian, the Rev. Culpep­per plays the key­board and gui­tar. His sons, William and My­lon play in the stu­dent band. His wife Kim is em­ployed with At­lanta Gas Light and min­is­ters along side her hus­band and teaches the ladies Sun­day school class and chil­dren’s wor­ship.

Culpep­per grad­u­ated from Mt. Ver­non Chris­tian School in Stock­bridge, at­tended the Bap­tist Uni­ver­sity of Amer­ica and grad­u­ated from Luther Rice Sem­i­nary in 2004 with a BA in Re­li­gion.

“As a staff, we are find­ing our­selves be­ing stretched and God is tak­ing us deeper in our walk,” said Culpep­per. “Un­til he has tried us and tested us, he will not release us to a new level of min­istry.”

As­so­ciate Pas­tor, Rob­bie Nor­man, leads fam­ily life and stu­dent min­istries. Li­censed in 2003 and or­dained in 2006, Nor­man holds an AS from Ge­or­gia Perime­ter Col­lege and will grad­u­ate from Luther Rice Uni­ver­sity in spring, 2009. His goal is to de­velop the next gen­er­a­tion of stu­dent leaders. Nor­man is en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents to sup­port See you at the Pole on Septem­ber 24.

“We in­ten­tion­ally give the teens an op­por­tu­nity to do min­istry,” said Nor­man. “We op­er­ate out­reach clubs at mid­dle schools be­fore school be­gins one day a week. Last Fri­day at Vet­er­ans Memo­rial Mid­dle School, we had over 100 at­tend cam­pus life.”

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