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New Life’s History

Early in the spring of 1995, the vision of organizing a new church in the Decatur area was placed upon the hearts of a six men, who became the New Life's first Church Elders, along with Rev. Marlin D. Harris, who would serve as its first pastor. It was determined later that this new ministry would be called “New Life Baptist Church”. These men, along with the Pastor, began to meet and combine their financial resources for the new ministry. They began to contribute their tithes and offerings into this new mission and to search for a building in which to house the opening service of the “New Life Baptist Church”. The site was the sanctuary of Atlanta’s First Church of the Nazarene in Decatur, Georgia. New Life was blessed to have secured a beautiful sanctuary to hold worship services, well in advance of their opening service.

New Life’s Pastor, Rev. Marlin D. Harris, at that time was serving as pastor of a local church in Decatur, GA, however, he found himself being urged to do ministry in a different environment. This urge pounced upon his conscience day after day, through time and circumstances. Later it was confirmed in his heart that change was necessary. He made preparation to leave his pastoral post to fully dedicate his time to directing and organizing the vision and ministry of the new work that God had placed in him. Thus, the planning stages for the Church’s vision, organization, ministry operation, etc. had begun. This new church would be committed to a practical, yet powerful teaching ministry, with an unwavering emphasis on the Word of God as the final authority in every believer’s life. Pastor Harris sought to have a ministry that was to be governed and operated according to the authentic design given in Scripture. It would be a church centered on Christian discipleship and evangelism. The vision for the church would focus on Scriptural guidelines as the basis of operation for all of the church’s ministries and functions.

On Mother’s Day, 1995, a colossal day in the history of New Life, a large number of Christians, who served under Pastor Harris’ previous leadership, met in the parking lot of Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur. At this meeting, the Pastor and the Elders of the Church would share the plans of the new church and directions to the site of its first worship service. They all sang and prayed together and worshipped the Lord outside, on the front lawn of the Oakhurst Elementary School. It was truly a sight to behold. That day, many supporters and future members contributed to the financial needs of New Life and pledged support for this new ministry.

New Life held its first worship service in Atlanta’s First Church of the Nazarene on May 21, 1995, the third Sunday in May. Approximately 500 worshippers came out to support this venue of ministry. New Life was blessed at its first service to have 301 new members join the church. God proved Himself to be faithful to His promises. New Life’s history is young, but rich with accomplishments. From the first worship service of the new church until today, more than 3200 believers call New Life home. The vision of the ministry for New Life was embraced by all and God blessed the church daily. New Life was leasing space in the Church of the Nazarene for its service, but this limited the liberty for activities and other church functions. The leadership and members of New Life began to make plans to purchase their own building. Although it seemed impossible because of the church’s infancy, through the leadership’s search for prospective sites to purchase, God blessed them to find a wonderful opportunity in the Lithonia, Georgia area.

After much negotiation, New Life was able to secure the property at its present location, 3600 Snapfinger Road, Lithonia, Georgia. In the few years of New Life’s history, the ministry has been blessed to experience several growth pursuits, namely:

  • In December of 1995, just 6 months after the opening service of the new church, New Life was blessed to secure the purchase of a new church facility in Lithonia, GA. Pastor Harris led the church in this endeavor even though the ministry was only 6 months old with no credit history, and limited financial resources.

  • In 1998, the completion of a 340-space parking lot expansion project was finished. Also in that year, New Life started its Summer Camp program which currently houses nearly 100 youth.

  • In 1999, the church acquired 2.5 additional acres of land, increasing the church’s total acreage to 17.5 acres.

  • In 2000, the church was blessed to retire its first mortgage in excess of 1.5 million dollars after only 5 years. The debt was officially “burned” during our New Year’s Eve worship service that year.

  • In 2001, New Life was blessed with a miraculous acquisition of a 5.5 million dollar school facility sitting on 17 acres of land on Flat Shoals Road. This facility was the former Southwest Dekalb High School, with a large capacity for dedicated ministry to the South Dekalb community and surrounding areas with much needed social services and community programs.

  • In 2002, a critical portion of the church’s vision was realized. New Life Community Ministries, a non-profit Community Development Corporation, was founded by Pastor Harris and the church’s Eldership.

  • In 2003, NLCM became a full service Christian Community Center for the South Dekalb County area. The New Life Community Center serves as the only Faith-based community center of its kind in South Dekalb. The center ministers to youth, under-served adults, seniors, the homeless, substance and drug abusers, as well as at-risk teenagers. In addition, the community center offers a host of Continuing Education Programs, Tutorial Services, Dance Classes, Sewing Classes, Upholstering Classes, Karate Classes, and Computer Classes on a seasonal basis.

New Life has been blessed to do so much in such a short time, yet there is so much more to do. We trust that, with the Lord's strength, we will accomplish all that God places within our hands, and lays upon our hearts to do for His Glory. We stand upon the promise, “He that hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

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