History of Morningside Baptist Church
Morningside Baptist Church began its history as a mission church with 85 members meeting in a small red brick house on Frazier Drive near Weems Road in Columbus, Georgia. On August 24, 1952, this mission of Calvary Baptist Church and the Columbus Baptist Association was constituted into Morningside Baptist Church. That same day the church called Rev James R. (Jimmy) Cook to be their first pastor.
Forty years later, on August 16, 1992, Bro Jimmy wrote in the Morningside Messenger, “I almost did not come to Morningside. A few weeks before, W.I. Barkley, Superintendent of Missions for the Columbus Baptist Association, had asked me if I would consider being Pastor at Morningside. I met him out at the Chapel, and looked at that little four room house with two Sunday School classes in each room and a frame chapel that might seat 65 people if they could crowd in on those slat benches. I really could see little hope for such a church on a side street.”
But as Bro Jimmy continued, “God would give me no peace until I told Mr. Barkley that I would come if the people called. Praise the Lord! He knows a lot more than I do”.
Bro Jimmy served as Pastor for 41 years and was named Pastor Emeritus in 1994.
During the first year, Morningside averaged about 150 people in Sunday School and the church budget was $100 a week. In August of 1953, the church completed a chapel that seated 200 people, had three classrooms and a baptistery. Two years later the church began a departmental Sunday School in a newly constructed educational building. During 1956 the chapel was enlarged to accommodate the growing congregation, and in 1958 another educational building was completed. In 1963 Morningside began construction on a new sanctuary and a third educational building.
As Bro Jimmy wrote in the August 20, 1967, edition of the Morningside Messenger, Morningside Baptist Church had grown tremendously during the first 15 years. “Fifteen years have come and gone since a small group of us met to constitute Morningside Baptist Church. In those years we have come from a small house to well over a half million dollars in property – from 85 members to almost 900 – from a budget of $5,000 a year to 82,000. Only those who have been here over these years can even begin to realize how wonderfully God has blessed a small struggling church! To Him be the Glory forever and ever!
“Our greatest blessings have not come in the outward things named above, as important as they are. The richest blessings have come in the spiritual realm. Over these 15 years many precious souls have found Jesus as Lord and Savior. Many of us who are Christians have grown in our spiritual lives. The warm Christian fellowship and the very real spiritual atmosphere that have been a part of this church are choice blessings of God.”
During the early 70’s the church purchased additional property, an Allen Computer Organ for the sanctuary and started a four-year-old preschool program. In 1977 the church placed a sundial at the site of the original four-room house to commemorate Morningside’s first location.
Buildings and became debt-free in August 01, 1983. In 1987 the church observed its 35th anniversary and added a three year class to the weekly preschool program.
In 1988 the church voted to build a new, larger sanctuary on Morningside Drive. After breaking ground in October of 1989, the congregation moved into the new sanctuary on November 18, 1990. The old sanctuary was renovated to serve as educational space.
In 1992 Morningside celebrated its 40th anniversary and Bro Jimmy announced his retirement upon the church calling a new pastor. As Bro Jimmy had written in August of 1992, “…these are very special days to me as I come toward the close of my work here. You are a great people. The best is yet to come!”
On August 1, 1993, the church called Rev. E.D. (Ed) Helton, Jr. as Pastor of Morningside. Also that year the church approved a new site location to build a Fellowship Hall and Office Complex.
Bro Ed wrote in the Morningside Messenger on September 5, 1993, “The flurry of activity around Morningside is exciting. People are joining, attendance is up, offerings have increased, and there is a noticeable sense of enthusiasm everywhere. It is my prayer that as we grow in numbers we will grow in heart and spirit.”
During 1994 the church began two morning services and built a new Office Complex and Fellowship Hall. Nearly 600 people attended the first Family Night Supper in the new Fellowship Hall on November 16th. The old Fellowship Hall and offices were renovated and the church added a nursery room to the preschool building.
In August of 1997, Morningside’s 45th anniversary, Bro Ed wrote of the upcoming Sunday’s communion service, “The model of the New Testament church was to preach the Word, spend time in prayer, remember the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, and to celebrate being together as a family of believers. We will live that model out Sunday and I’m looking forward to sharing this special time with you.” After eight years as pastor of Morningside, Bro Ed resigned in November of 2001.
On November 17, 2002, after serving as Interim Pastor for six months, Rev. William V (Bill) Shorey accepted the call to serve as Senior Pastor at Morningside Baptist Church.
As Morningside looks to it's furure, Pastor Shorey noted the church’s desire to continue getting out the message of God’s Word. “Morningside Baptist Church’s history reflects a church that grew, expanded and changed to meet the needs of each generation. They did this without departing from the Great Commission or compromising the integrity of Christ’s Church. The record shows the church family worked together prayerfully, diligently and patiently, but always fully trusting God would make His purpose clear and His plan available. When Christ reigns preeminent, Morningside Baptist Church moves forward with one heart, one soul, one mind and one voice to accomplish God’s purposes in each generation. May our history repeat itself!”