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50th Anniversary


St. Catherine’s – Our Story

It all began on October 30, 1961 when 35 Episcopalians organized St. Catherine’s mission, initially meeting with the Rev. John Womack, Archdeacon of the Diocese, in Red Rock Community House and later in Sedalia Park Elementary School. Over four decades later, and several building programs, and visionary rectors, we now have a church with pews to seat about 400, a Memorial Garden, and an attached education building, more offices and staff, a large parish hall, and a large commercial kitchen. For most of its first 5 years, it was served by the Rev. W. McClelland, who was also vicar of St. David’s in Roswell.

In 1962, the present land of approximately 10 acres was acquired for a four phase building program beginning with a chapel and parish hall at a cost of $12,500. By 1967 the mission had grown to 95 communicants and the need for a resident vicar was indicated. In July of that year, Bishop Clairborne assigned the Rev. James Clarke to St. Catherine’s and to be part-time assistant to St. James until 1970, when he became full time vicar of St. Catherine’s. In 1968, another planning committee indicated the need of a larger facility and eventually for a full time priest. Plans were completed for construction of the building and the ground breaking was on June 13, 1968. The cost of the church with classrooms in the undercroft was $40,000 including materials used in the finishing touches. Much of the building was done by volunteers. Members of the congregation and friendly consultants contributed skills and many hours of labor. St. Catherine’s is a visible expression of its members. The first service was held in March, 1970 and Father Clarke became a full time vicar.

February 15, 1973, St. Catherine’s was dedicated by the Rev. Milton Wood, Suffragan Bishop of Atlanta. That Spring, Father Clarke accepted the post of Institutional Chaplain for the Diocese and the Rev. Michael B. Milligan, Curate of St. Paul’s, Macon came to us and began may 22, 1973. And we continued to grow. One of the new programs at St. Catherine’s was the Mother’s Morning Out begun by two St. Catherine’s moms who saw a need for this kind of child care and ministry. They began with about 40 children. Under Fr. Milligan, we went from mission status to full parish. He left in 1976 to do consultation work and to further his education. The Rev. David F. Wayland from Covington, Kentucky followed the Rev. Milligan.

The spring of 1980 was a pivotal time for St. Catherine’s as the diocese had decided that a church was needed on Johnson Ferry Road, at a location about 5 miles east of St. Catherine’s. Bishop Sims asked the people of St. Catherine’s to consider relocating to the new location, and through the summer, the vestry and parish met, prayed about and studied the issue involved and put the building program on hold. On September 6, the vestry advised Bishop Sims that we would stay on Holt Road and our theme and slogan became “Bloom where you are planted.”

And bloom we did with a new addition that connected the church building with the parish offices, new classrooms, and a new kitchen. New ministries and programs were also added. The Mother’s Morning Out grew to become our highly respected Preschool. Our connection with MUST Ministries grew and we became involved with building Habitat Houses. We added more staff and purchased a new organ. In 1986, the sanctuary was renovated by church members and dedicated by Bishop Judson Child.

On January 1988, The Rev. Wayland celebrated his final service and groundbreaking for a new education and office wing with Bishop Frank Allan officiating. Father Wayland went to Wheeling, Vest Virginia as coordinator of the joint Metropolitan Ministry. The Rev. Doris Graf Smith, who had been a deacon and priest at St. Catherine’s became the priest during this vacancy.

When the Rev. Laurence Packard became our rector, he began his ministry with us with a large hole in the ground which would later be our educational wing. He would now oversee the completion of the building. As we grew in space and membership, we added a third Sunday morning service. We had three different assistants: The Rev. Bill Shepherd, the Rev. Mike Billingsley, and the Rev. Hazel Glover. In 1995, a choice was made to invest in a new mission in West Cobb County. On July 7, we said farewell to Michael Billingsley and approximately 30 of our members, as they formally moved to St. Teresa’s Mission in West. Cobb. Members acknowledged the sense of family was still prominent; a memorial Garden was completed and the “Pledge Plus” was now part of our language. Larry Packard resigned to accept a new call and during his vacancy the Rev. Newell Anderson became our Interim Rector from Easter 1997 until 1998. The Rev. James T. Nixon came to us from Chicago and on November 24, 1998, was inducted by Bishop Frank K. Allan as rector of St. Catherine’s.

As Cobb County grew, so did the membership of St. Catherine’s. In 2002, the Rev. Sherry Coulter came from Memphis as the new Assistant Rector, then Associate Rector, and served with us through May 2007.

Father Jim saw the need of another long range planning group and began “The Emmaus Project.” The work of this group indicated the need for a larger sanctuary, a larger choir room, meeting rooms, offices, a larger kitchen and educational space. Midway through the church expansion, revitalization, remodeling, and refurbishing, on January 10, 2004, St. Catherine’s was devastated by an electrical fire, interrupting the building process. The building that housed St. Catherine’s Preschool was so badly ravaged we were forced to find a temporary home for them. Nearby congregations and schools opened their hearts, hands, and doors to us. After 10 months of demolition and rebuilding, the church was dedicated in the new and gloriously rebuilt worship space by Bishop J. Neil Alexander on November 21, 2004.

November 2010 through November 2011 was a gala year of celebration to “remember, rejoice, renew” for our Fiftieth Anniversary. A new logo for St. Catherine’s was developed in this year by parishioner Jason Snape, featuring three figures holding hands (in our warm St. Catherine’s welcome and our tradition of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer) gathered under a roof with three crosses (signifying the Trinity and representing our building facade). A major addition to our facility during the anniversary year was the “brickwalk” of pavers in front of the church.

During a storm on August 31 (Labor Day weekend) 2013, our beloved “Great Oak” tree, which had shaded the church front for so many years, was severely damaged and revealed an interior rot condition. After a year of tending it became obvious that the tree would not recover, and it was taken down in the first week of Advent 2014.

Father Jim retired on June 30, 2015 after 17 years as Rector of St. Catherine’s. The Rev. C. Dean Taylor served as our Interim Rector beginning August 1, 2015 through his farewell Sunday on June 4, 2017.

Associate Rector, The Rev. Susan Johnson, began her ministry with us on March 30, 2008. It was fascinating to learn that Amma Susan’s husband, Roy H. Johnson, was a well-known church musician and author of Hymn #588 in The Hymnal, 1982, “Almighty God, your word is cast.” We were delighted to sing it for them both on many occasions. She served with us over nine years, and retired with her last Sunday on July 30, 2017.

Our current rector, The Rev. Sarah K. Fisher, served her first Sunday with us on June 11, 2017, and was installed as Rector on November 15, 2017 in a Celebration of New Ministry led by our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright.

(History by Eileen Motter and others)

Memories Timeline

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50th Anniversary – 2011

Click here for details of our 50th Anniversary Year of Celebration 2010-2011