My last visit to Mount Paran Church of God just days ago was quite similar to my first visit some 27 years ago: a spirit-filled two-hour service full of music, foot stomping, hand clapping, a joyful celebration that left me feeling a spiritual high for weeks, if not months. And after all was said and done, it felt like I’d only been there for 20 minutes.
One hundred years ago this month, leaders of a burgeoning Church of God denomination gathered in Atlanta, and began to hold tent revival worship services at the corner of Whitehall and Trinity Streets.
As attendance grew, a new church was eventually formed. The congregation bought property on Sixth Street, near Royal Street, in 1921 to become the first Pentecostal church in Atlanta. Sixth Street Church of God had two meeting rooms and a seating capacity for 300.
The Sixth St. facility would accommodate the growing church for 20 years, before it built a new home on Hemphill Avenue and changing its name to Hemphill Avenue Church of God. At Hemphill, the church would double in size, necessitating another building on another property.
In 1967, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Paul L. Walker, Hemphill Avenue Church of God moved northward to Mount Paran Road, and again the church took the name of its street address: Mount Paran Church of God.
As Dr. Walker was elevated in the denomination to General Overseer, Dr. David Cooper was installed as Senior Pastor, and in 2001 began building a new facility to accommodate the congregation upwards of 10,000 members. This time, however, the church would build on its existing property and replace the older structure with new construction.
On August 28, 2017, Mount Paran Church of God celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a Centennial Celebration drawing nearly 3,000 guests and choir and orchestra members.
The two-hour service was a reunion of young and old alike, and a tribute to music and worship styles spanning the decades of the church’s history. Click here to experience the celebration at Vimeo.com.
I am incredibly grateful to Mount Paran staff for allowing me the opportunity to document this historical occasion. A gallery of images from this amazing service is located here.