Members, far and near, along with friends and visitors all made their way to the Friendly Church of God in Christ 66th Church Anniversary celebration. It could be considered a homecoming, and everyone came home to fellowship together and mark 66 years of ‘doors that hang on friendly hinges’. Friendly members all clad in anniversary theme t-shirts, designed by Bro. Brandon Hackney, for the service helped to signify that it was a special occasion. As the sanctuary filled, members greeted one another with hugs and smiles.
The service, themed “The Vision Continues” based on Habakkuk 2:2-3, took place on October 21st at 3 o’clock in the evening. Elder Anthony Roper served as presider and started the celebration off as His Own opened with a melody of praise. Just in case visitors didn’t feel welcome to join in the festivities, District Missionary Jaqueline Millender rolled out a verbal welcome mat. She provided the occasion and eloquently proclaimed Friendly COGIC a spiritual landmark that serves as a notable point within COGIC history.
Friendly’s Combined Choir rendered selections throughout the service that added to the atmosphere of praise. One selection, “God Said It” led by Missionary Tara Wheat, ministered to the congregation and was a crowd favorite prompting several to stand and join in with the choir as they declared “God said it and I believe it.”
Friendly COGIC has a rich history and many people have labored in the ministry over the years. Recognition was given to individuals who have been Friendly COGIC members for over 50 years for their faithfulness to the ministry. Some members were called from labor to rest over the years. Time was also taken to recognize the members that have gone to be with the Lord for their efforts and contribution to Friendly’s legacy.
After the singing and reflections comes the main part of any service – the message. Bishop Mark Walden, Northern Georgia Second Jurisdiction Prelate and Pastor of House of God COGIC, given his long history with Friendly COGIC was a familiar face as speaker for the occasion. Under the subject title “A Successful Church” with scripture references from Ephesians 5: 25-27, Bishop Walden detailed attributes and characteristics that a Godly church should possess. Of these he concentrated on a church’s focus on the community and caring for ‘the least of these’ as referenced in the bible.
History shows that the leadership of Friendly has been focused on expanding the body of Christ and making room for all that would want to fellowship within its walls. With a motto of “Win One For Christ”, Friendly is indeed mindful of growing the kingdom of God. As the congregation grows the walls must expand. In 2001, under the leadership of Superintendent Emeritus Leroy James, the Lord provided Friendly the opportunity to purchase 26.43 acres of land off Dyess Parkway to prepare for growth.
The 66th Anniversary Service was especially noteworthy because it not only served as a celebration for the church’s anniversary but also a mortgage burning service for the Dyess Parkway property. A special ceremony was held within the anniversary service to mark the accomplishment and blessing of paying in full the remaining balance of the property. Pastor Willie Boyd Sr., along with Minister Reginald James (who stood in his father’s stead- Pastor Emeritus James), the Friendly COGIC trustees, and Bishop Walden all gathered in front of the standing congregation as Pastor Boyd led a responsive reading praising God for the great blessing of providing the church the ability to conquer a financial giant. At the conclusion of the reading the mortgage was placed in a black pail and burned. The burning paper represented the debt no longer owed and a visual of God’s fulfilled promise to Friendly. The choir capped off the ceremony by singing “Amen” as the congregation lifted thanksgiving to God.
The service concluded with remarks for Mother Bertha Fitts, Elect Lady Patricia Boyd, Pastor Boyd, and dismissal by Bishop Walden. All in attendance exited the sanctuary toward the fellowship hall for the reception as the choir sang “It Shall Come To Pass”. It could be viewed as a prophetic selection. From the founding of Friendly COGIC on Gomers Lane to its continued growth at 1123 Carrie Street on to 1115 Carrie Street and now as Friendly prepares to transition to Dyess Parkway it is evident that Friendly COGIC is making room for more. Expanding the walls for more souls, more ministry, and more outreach. For these reasons and many more members and guests attended the celebration of another year Friendly has kept its doors opened.
David put it best in Psalms 122:1 when he penned “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” October 21, 2018 served as a day for remembrance. To thank God for one house of the Lord, Friendly COGIC, and the 66 years its doors have been opened for anyone to gladly walk through.