Cornerstone United Methodist Church to celebrate first 20 years


Al and Virginia McEachern stand beside one of the signs that invited people to become a part of “East Coweta’s exciting new church” 20 years ago.

By W. WINSTON SKINNER You could say Cornerstone United Methodist Church began with a sign -- actually two signs, the kind you see on the side of the road. The church at Thomas Crossroads is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Sunday. The anniversary service will start at 11:15 a.m. Ann Warren of Cornerstone said there will be no Sunday school or 9 a.m. service on Sunday.
"A delicious lunch will follow the service, with fantastic music from past and present members of our very own Cornerstone Quartet," she said. Guest speakers for the anniversary service will be Bishop Mike Watson and District Superintendent Carol Cook. The festivities will also include a slideshow that will be "full of wonderful Cornerstone memories," Warren said. Twenty years ago, in March 1992, Bishop Ernest Fitzgerald officially chartered Cornerstone United Methodist Church. The small group that had started meeting in private homes had grown to 100 members. Fitzgerald spoke with the late Dr. Alton McEachern in October 1990 about leading efforts to start a new Methodist congregation in eastern Coweta County. Twelve acres had been purchased by the North Georgia Conference and the LaGrange District about five years earlier at the intersection of Highway 154 and Highway 34. McEachern and his wife, Virginia, "accepted the challenge of building a congregation in the Thomas Crossroads area," Warren related. One of the first tasks was the placement of two large signs about the new church -- with the McEachern's home telephone number. While Al McEachern was supervising installation of the signs, Ed Wyrick stopped to welcome him. Wyrick's was the first of approximately 50 responses to the signs. The first meeting of the budding congregation was held at the McEachern home on July 8, 1991. Present were Pete and Annette Holland, Warren and Evelyn Leverette, Sue Zimmerman, Ellen and Bill Davis, Jimmy and Dorothy Rich and Glenda, Rob, Ellen and Bill Davis. The second meeting was held at the Leverette home on July 28 -- with 26 in attendance. The congregation soon began meeting at the Peachtree City Seventh-day Adventist Church. "Our first barbecue was held that year to begin securing funds to build our own facility," Warren said. The first service was held in the Celebration Center was in November 1995. In July 1997 one part of the education building was opened. In 1998, Cornerstone got its first fulltime youth minister, Brian Loper. The next year, Kathi Noreika started Cornerstone Kids Preschool with 10 children and two teachers. That program has consistently grown and now serves more than 120 children. In 2000, Mike Peevy joined the Cornerstone staff and "greatly expanded our music program," Warren said. The church added "needed classroom space and an enclosed narthex in 2001," she added. Warren said the church has been blessed -- throughout its history -- "by the dedicated pastors, their wives and families that have led us. Pastors and spouses have been Dr. Alton and Virginia McEachern, Dr. David and Susan Campbell, Joe and Julie Watson and now Rick and Susie Price. "Last year we welcomed our first minister of evangelism, Scott Ballentine," Warren said. Many things have changed since the signs went up two decades ago. "At least one thing has remained a constant -- sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others," Warren said.

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