A full congregation is packed inside the sanctuary of first United Methodist Church that Albany earlier this year as component of a series of unified solutions celebrating the church’s 175th anniversary. The last unified business of the anniversary year will take ar Dec. 4, throughout which the Rev. Thad Haygood will honor the past, advice the present and look come the church’s future. (Photo Courtesy of Todd Urick)


The 1995 Hosanna Youth Choir from an initial United Methodist Church of Albany. (Photo Courtesy the Beth O’Brien)


This group of very first United Methodist Church of Albany members to be the church’s very first medical mission team to travel to India in 1984. (Photo Courtesy the Beth O’Brien)


First unified Methodist Church of Albany senior Pastor Thad Haygood enjoys a holiday event back when he to be serving together the church’s associate minister from 1998-2003. Haygood recently returned to the church through his wife, who he met throughout his first stay in Albany, and also their children. (Photo Courtesy of Beth O’Brien)

This very first United Methodist Church of Albany Sunday school course from 1947 was instrumental in founding The Anchorage, a faith-based problem abuse treatment facility in Albany. (Photo Courtesy the Beth O’Brien)

ALBANY — When an elderly Pastor the Rev. Thad Haygood preaches the final unified company of the year at first United Methodist Church in downtown Albany Dec. 4, he will not just be recognizing the past and presenting the current state that the church. He’ll likewise be looking to the future together he helps bring a close to the year-long solemn event of the 175th anniversary of among Albany’s earliest churches.

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Throughout the past year, the church, i m sorry was founded just a few years ~ Nelson Tift arrived follow me the financial institutions of the Flint River, has celebrated this important milestone that remaining one of the area’s flagship united Methodist church’s v a series of one-of-a-kind quarterly events and unified services, throughout which the church’s 3 Sunday services have actually been linked into one.

According to information detailed by the church’s strategy planning committee, those quarterly services were every given different themes and also have thus much been officiated by previous church pastors who had led the congregation during the critical 25 years and also have because moved ~ above to various other churches or into retirement.

The an initial quarter’s layout was “Remember,” which encouraged the congregation to look earlier on the countless things that have arisen over the years and also the work-related God has accomplished through the congregation. That message was delivered by previous pastor the Rev. Don Kea.

Past and present members of an initial United Methodist Church of Albany’s Hosanna Choir give a special performance during one of an initial Methodist’s unified services this year in solemn event of the church’s 175th anniversary. (Photo Courtesy that Todd Urick)

The second quarter’s template was “Celebrate,” throughout which church members rejoiced in the blessing God has actually bestowed ~ above the church through various ministries during its lengthy history. Guest preacher the Rev. Mike McAfee officiated the service, and the congregation to be treated to a power by a gathering of past and also current members of the church’s Hosanna Choir, which was led during the business by former music manager Danny Kea and also former youth minister plunder Grothier.

The “Celebrate” service additionally featured the establishment of a Birthday fund to aid with renovations come the church’s sanctuary and a book signing event throughout which then-pastor Don Adams signed copies of his freshly published book “Top Ten joined Methodist Beliefs.” Additionally, the church saw a brand-new confirmation class and also watched minister Scott Stanfill end up his job-related to come to be an ordained minister.

In the 3rd quarter, the church’s unified service was called “Engage,” and guest preacher the Rev. Cindy Autry, who had actually served as the church’s minister of program ministries for almost 20 years, assisted the congregation highlight the newest members the the church family.

Following the service, the congregation organized a carnival-themed to adjust fair throughout which members signed up to serve in different locations as a way to communicate in the life that the church and also its missions.

“It’s been a liven time,” stated Beth O’Brien, a strategic planning committee member that was born into the church and has to be a member because that the past 60 years. “We’ve been revitalizing a the majority of things this year. It’s been fun, too, because we’ve gotten to carry out a many reminiscing.”

“Anticipate” is the design template of the church’s final unified service, i beg your pardon was an alleged to it is in led by former pastor john Horton, who had to cancel at the last minute. Serving in his stead will be Haygood, who ended up being the church’s an elderly pastor in June, complying with Adams’ retirement.

Haygood claimed being able to preach the upcoming service and coming come the church throughout its anniversary year is divinely inspired, as his arrival is tied firmly to the church’s past and its present.

“The fascinating thing about all that this is the the church is celebrating 175 years, and I to be an associate pastor here from 1998 come 2003,” Haygood said. “What’s amazing to me is ns never might have attracted that up. To celebrate 175 years together we think earlier on the past and celebrate all that, and as us anticipate the future, come be offered the opportunity, ns can’t aid but view God’s hand in that.

“I have the right to remember few of the past, yet I also get to assist lead us right into the future. I’m just so humbled by that and also it’s just exciting and also scary and every one of those points at the same time. But I can’t help but think that’s magnificent timing.”

Although his background with the church is rather limited, Haygood would certainly argue the God has actually been bestowing blessing on the church throughout its long history, from the founding of the congregation in 1841, come the construction of its an initial sanctuary on the Flint Avenue residential property it occupies today in 1854, to the building and construction of the church’s 3rd sanctuary, which has been the church’s primary area that worship because the 1960s.

First joined Methodist Church’s Walden Chapel now sits ~ above the site of one of the Albany church’s previous sanctuaries on the corner of Flint Avenue and Jackson Street. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

Haygood can allude to few of the highlights the the church’s illustrious history as the an initial Methodist Church in Albany, including the church’s hand in helping to beginning the Anchorage faith-based problem abuse therapy center and also the sponsorship of various other area Methodist Churches: Porterfield joined Methodist, Avalon unified Methodist, Palmyra roadway United Methodist, Trinity unified Methodist, Morningside unified Methodist, West Town joined Methodist, Christ unified Methodist and The Pointe.

Haygood also points to the construction of a distinct teaching hospital in India that has actually been continual by the congregation due to the fact that the at an early stage 1980s and several various other mission and outreach activities he says have actually helped very first United Methodist remain an essential fixture in the Albany community and abroad.

“The best thing is simply the love for missions that this church has and always has had,” claimed Haygood. “This church has always reached out past its doors.

“And then, that course, the church has embraced the downtown community. The church look at its obligation to it is in a light to our next-door neighbors right below downtown. Because of all of that, in addition to great programming, a great youth team for our children, in history this has actually been a flagship church of unified Methodism in Southwest Georgia.”

Long-time church member friend Rainy, a regular fixture top top the church campus, and at the church’s 8:30 a.m. Services each Sunday, agreed, including that the people who have worshipped, and also led worship, in ~ the church have had a considerable impact on the breakthrough of the church.

The 2nd sanctuary of very first United Methodist Church the Albany was set up in 1854. It was replaced by a new brick sanctuary in 1901. (Photo Courtesy that Beth O’Brien)

“I agree with that. It’s the background of the pastors that we have actually been fortunate to have been chosen by the Bishop to come to us,” defined Rainey. “The church and the people. The names of the human being — Spenser Walden, Herbert Haley, that was Coca Cola, Mr. Brown — you no only uncover them here, you’d discover them downtown, in ~ the office, and everywhere and they were simply representative of the church.”

In enhancement to the love for organization embodied by church members past and also present, both Rainey and also Haygood point to the plenty of diverse programs the church provides its members, including a preschool, three different services every Sunday and a large number of Sunday school classes, together being integral to the church’s success.

“As much as vibrancy, our preschool is 2nd to none, and also that draws civilization downtown,” claimed Haygood. “We continually offer solid Bible researches and little group ministries that keep world coming here. We’ve obtained ministries because that all age levels.”

That the church programming is for this reason diverse and also appealing to a wide range of people is other Haygood features to the prevailing feeling that anyone at the church is welcome, and so are their thoughts and ideas.

For numerous Albanians, this picture of the previous sanctuary of an initial United Methodist Church of Albany, which provided to stand on the corner of Flint Avenue and also Jackson Street, brings back fond storage of among the city’s oldest church families. (Photo Courtesy of Beth O’Brien)

“I think versatility is a vital component here; there’s a willingness to shot things in this church even though they might fail,” claimed Haygood. “There constantly seems to be a willingness to try things outside the box. There’s a collegiality in ~ the church, within the DNA, that everybody’s willing to offer something a shot.

Those thoughts about the church’s past and the things that make it together a special ar for those who take into consideration it your spiritual residence are height of mind because that Haygood as he prepares because that the final unified business of the year. The pastor said he’s been working on his sermon for some time and has a clean vision of how he wants to address the congregation top top Dec. 4.

Buddy Rainey, a long-time member of an initial United Methodist Church of Albany, points the end a paint of one of the church’s previous sanctuaries that currently hangs in the church’s women’s parlor. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

“What I desire to execute is, essentially, I contact it a ‘state that the church address,’” claimed Haygood. “What I desire to execute is to provide a current realistic snapshot of where we are, where we space membershipwise, worship attendancewise and also financially — simply a realistic picture. And also then I desire to share part visionary ideas for the future to hope get civilization excited and anticipating the future.”

Haygood has actually been meeting through church staff to get creative ideas around the year ahead and also is likewise planning to meet with someone that is an skilled in visionary planning who can aid formulate a longer-term setup to make sure the church member is not just sustained yet continues come grow.

“We should formulate a five- come 10-year plan, whether I’m right here or not,” stated Haygood. “We must be thinking, ‘What execute we want the church to look like in five to 10 years?’

“I just want to hopefully bridge, was standing on both sides of that on Dec. 4, and say, ‘Historically here’s wherein we’ve been — our attendance is down from where it has historically been, yet here’s wherein the potential is.’ Those type of things.”

The Walden Chapel, which currently sits where among the past sancutaries of an initial United Methodist Church that Albany once stood, is offered for the church’s Sunday 8:30 a.m. Service, also as small weddings and funerals. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

Haygood claimed he would likewise issue a an obstacle to the congregation to proceed spreading the church’s message in the community and also to keep striving to broaden the membership.

“I’ve challenged them to let’s shot to lug in 100 brand-new members in 2017,” that said. “And it is a rather lofty challenge. But it absolutely has been done in the past in this church. And, again, the fact is, we’ve gained to it is in bringing in 50 brand-new people a year just to break even with the variety of deaths and also people moving away.

Although the Dec. 4 business will bring and end to the church’s year of celebration, Haygood stated he thinks few of the points the church has done transparent the year will continue into the future.

For example, the renovations to the sanctuary and other areas of the church that will certainly come from the birthday fund established in the 2nd quarter will be visible for years come come. Additionally, both Rainey and also Haygood said the congregation has actually expressed a desire to continue having the combined services, which have helped to combine the bond among the church family.

“It gets us together,” claimed Rainey the the combined services. “We obtain to see people that we see some times yet we don’t get to worship v them. Native this side, we have took pleasure in the service together, appreciated seeing every the civilization together.”

The mother Sunday school course stands in prior of the first United Methodist Chruch of Albany’s Educational structure shortly after that was developed in 1930. (Photo Courtesy of Beth O’Brien)

Regardless of even if it is the congregation continues with the merged services beyond 2017, it’s likely a for sure bet that an initial United Methodist will continue to honor the church history the strategy planning committee put on the church’s revamped website earlier this year.

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“For 175 years, an initial United Methodist has sought to fulfill the great Commission — ‘to go and make disciples,’” the essay reads. “The church campus has grown, and also the mission has actually remained the same: getting to out come the world and telling the story that Jesus.

“We space proud of ours history, yet we recognize that the great Commission compels us to continue to go and make disciples. An initial United Methodist Church looks front to how God will certainly lead united state to fulfill that mission because that the following 175 years.”