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Lee marks 40 years at Shiloh Baptist

 

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent
 

  Dr. Edward W. Lee will celebrate 40 years as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in McDonough with several special anniversary events the first weekend in April.

Dr. Edward W. Lee is shown with his wife Betty. Dr. Lee is celebrating 40 years as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church on April 5.                Special photo

  A Henry County resident nearly his entire life, he grew up worshipping at Shiloh as it was the historical church of his mother’s family. Born in the east Georgia town of Wrens, he was the son of a preacher and visited many different churches until his father’s death in 1949, at which time the family moved back to his mother’s hometown of McDonough.

  Lee has been a licensed minister for about 52 of his 68 years, and he spent three decades of his tenure in the Shiloh pastorate as a bi-vocational minister. He worked 33 years for the Atlanta Metropolitan WMCA at several locations throughout the city until his retirement in 2002.

  Shiloh’s recent history reflects the explosive growth Henry County experienced in the 1990s and 2000s.

  “I’ve always been quite ambitious in my visioning, and I knew the day would come when we would grow,” said Lee. “It (county growth) really blew us off the map. We had to go to two Sunday morning services in the 1990s.”

  The church, in existence 144 years and located just south of the Square on Hwy. 42, was able to purchase adjoining property and build its current sanctuary nearly a decade ago, moving in time for Easter services in 2006.

Lee and his wife, Betty, who he said “works much harder than I do,” have two sons and five grandchildren in the area. Edward Jr. worked in the music department at Shiloh and other area churches but now worships there (his wife is a member of the church’s office staff). Younger son Eric is pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers.

  Of course, 40 years at the same church is plenty of time to see members born, grow up, get married and have their own children to start the cycle again.

  “I’ve seen quite a few generations,” Lee acknowledged. “I have attended funerals of a lot of great friends. I have dedicated a lot of babies, blessed a lot of folks. It has been quite a ride.”

  The church has a solid cross-section of all age groups, which the pastor thinks is vital.

  “That is so important for a church,” he said. “The youth have their space and their ministries, but when it comes to worship we have always been able to blend the two.”

  Shiloh has been able to see a fair amount of racial diversity in its congregation over the years as well, especially when Ft. McPherson was operating at full strength and many military families came to the area.

  Lee shows no sign of slowing down and neither does his congregation. Plans are underway to break ground on a new family life center in the next month or so.

  “I hope to be on my feet at least another four or five years,” he said.

  A celebration parade will begin Friday, April 4, at 6 p.m. from the church campus on Hwy. 42 south of the Square. The parade will include the downtown McDonough area. There will be a celebration event at the church that night with the teens and children.

  A special anniversary gala is scheduled for Saturday, April 5, from 6-9 p.m. at Eagle’s Landing Country Club. Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased by contacting Earlene Crump at 770-377-7881.

  Worship services will be held Sunday, April 6, at the church to commemorate the anniversary. Rev. Lionel D. Wilson, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Locust Grove, and his church family will be special guests at the 8 a.m. service.

  Rev. Eric W. Lee, pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, will be the guest speaker in the 11 a.m. service.

  All members of the community are invited to this special celebration.

 

 

©Henry County Times, Inc.