First Fellowship Baptist Church began in 2001 as the God-given vision of Rev. Dr. Charles E. Odom.
God gave him the church's name well before the first sermon, the first song of praise or the first prayer was lifted. It was an idea in the mind of a longtime deacon who has always believed God for more and for greater. Though Pastor Odom had thought it would begin in Athens, where many of his first preaching assignments came, God had a better idea, causing it to grow hand in hand with a day-care business that his wife, Minister Constance B. Odom, started in their home, then in Alpharetta.
As the growing business moved out of the home and into a building, First Fellowship found its first assemblage in an open section of the day care. Pastor Odom, his wife and his three sons would set up chairs for Bible study, then take them down again when it was over. Permanent seating was a luxury many years down the road. Permanent dependence on God, however, was a foundational lesson learned from the outset.
With that dependence, Pastor Odom saw God shaping his vision into something tangible. God gave the increase and soon the fledgling church was meeting in a hotel ballroom in Roswell. Every time the pastor needed something to further the ministry, God provided it in ways he and his wife could not imagine, whether it was free-standing seats or permanent pews, microphones or headphones, or even deacons and ministers.
That led to the Wetherburn Way years, in which the church occupied a 1,700-square foot office building in Norcross that could hold about 100 members -- assuming that some didn't mind standing, which happened a few times as the church continued to grow.
God brought members to First Fellowship through a variety of ways. He brought those who needed children cared for or those who paid attention to billboards along the local highways. He brought those hearing announcements on Atlanta radio stations, and those who felt out of place in other houses of worship. He even brought those who thought they were simply letting their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages.
The church moved from Wetherburn Way to its current location on Campus Drive in late 2009. Members of the church swung the first sledgehammers into corporate-office sheet rock, the first steps in transforming secular into sanctuary. Pastor Odom was sure about what he wanted in directing the builders who completed the task, if not entirely sure how God was going to provide it.
But God certainly provided it -- a 13,000-square foot building that incorporates both church and day care. The church moved in on Nov. 1, 2009, with a beautiful sanctuary that can hold more than 300. From this base of operations, the church has widened its outreach efforts -- hosting intercessory and corporate prayer opportunities, birthing 12 ministries and auxiliaries that have proven to be a blessing to the community at large. Services are streamlined on the Internet, providing the church yet another way to reach beyond its walls.
Through the years, Pastor Odom has ordained 10 deacons and five ministers, licensed five ministers and appointed five gifted trustees, all with unique talents that further the vision. It has a flourishing children's church so that little ones can learn about Jesus -- and find their future spiritual callings -- on their age-appropriate level.
The church lives up to the name that God gave it, constantly finding other congregations with which to fellowship. Its growing network of sister churches stretches from Mississippi to South Carolina, and the membership isn't bashful about piling into buses and journeying hours to break bread with fellow believers.
At its core, however, First Fellowship remains what it was in the day of small things -- a work in progress, perfecting its praises to God, with a vision for so much more. God is still providing because we believe that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion. At First Fellowship, we're always excited about what God will do next, and continually pray that He won't ever have to do it without us.