HOOSIER MEMORIAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
The Hoosier Story
Hoosier Memorial United Methodist Church was officially opened at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, 1982. This new congregation was formed to replace the Audubon Forest United Methodist Church, which was disbanded in 1982 upon the retirement of the pastor, Rev. Wallace Wiggins. The new church became part of the North Georgia Conference in the Atlanta/College Park District as a result of an almost complete racial transition from white to black in the Cascade and Audubon Forest communities in Southwest Atlanta.
The church is named in tribute to Harry Hoosier, the great black Methodist preacher. Bishop Joel McDavid revealed the church's name at the first worship service. Hoosier was born a slave near Fayetteville, North Carolina around 1750. He became a national figure as a competitive preacher of Bishop Francis Asbury, one of the founders of Methodism in America.
The keynote speaker for the first service was Bishop L. Scott Allen, retired bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference. The first pastor, Rev. Rodney T. Smothers, was presented to the newly formed congregation and 17 persons came forward to unite with the church. At the first Charge Conference, held on October 6, 1982, 156 persons were declared members. The new cornerstone was installed following a special service on Sunday, August 12, 1984.
Under the leadership of Rev. Smothers, a viable and mission-minded church was begun with active organizations and many Christian programs. The church motto – "Committed to Christ and the Community" – and the mission statement, which provide a base for the development of programs, ministry and mission were formulated and activated.
The mission, which began under the leadership of Rev. Rodney Smothers, continued under the leadership of Rev. Richard D. Winn. Rev. Winn came to Hoosier in 1986 when Rev. Smothers was appointed Director of Evangelism and Revitalization at the General Board of Discipleship. Rev. Winn remained at Hoosier as Senior Pastor for nine years. In June 1995, Rev. Winn was appointed to the Warren Memorial United Methodist Church, and he passed the charge of leadership to Rev. Donald K. Reed, Senior Pastor and Rev. Celestine Boston, our newly appointed Associate Pastor. Rev. Reed served as pastor for two years and in June 1997, Rev. Wimbley Hale, Jr. came to Hoosier and served as Senior Pastor for four years. Rev. Boston served as Associate Pastor until June 1999.
On June 24, 2001, Rev. Dr. Derrick R. Rhodes came to Hoosier to continue the Christian work of the four previous pastors. Rev. Ryan Jones was assigned as Assistant Pastor. Dr. Rhodes remained at Hoosier for four years. During this time, a ministerial staff was formed consisting of Ministers Thomas Walters, Janette King, Donnella Cranford, Rori Blakely and Kenya Rucker. Rev. Woodrow Williams came to us in June of our 25th year. Natha Harris has served as Administrative Assistant since 2001 and Charles Gilmore, Sr. has served as Facility Manager since 2001.
Rev. Dr. Bernice Kirkland was appointed as the first female Senior Pastor of Hoosier Memorial in 2010. She led the congregation to reach new heights spiritually and physically over her four years as pastor. Rev. Gary D. Dean was appointed Senior Pastor in June 2014. Pastor Dean continues to serve Hoosier and the community faithfully through his commitment to preaching, teaching, nurturing and care of the Hoosier campus. We look forward to many years of effective ministry to our church and community as Pastor Dean leads us.
Natha Harris retired as Administrative Assistant on August 31, 2015 and Nichelle (Dee) Edmondson was hired to serve in that position.
Currently, Hoosier has a sanctuary choir, gospel choir, male chorus, praise team and children's choir. There are also four usher boards, a staff of acolytes, dedicated communion stewards, musicians, sound system operators, viable Sunday school classes for all ages, and children, youth, singles, family and older adult ministries. Noon and evening Bible studies are offered. Girl Scout and Boy Scout programs, Outreach and Nurture programs, United Methodist Men and Women organizations, Evangelism, Education and Worship Ministries, Birth Month Clubs, a Hospitality Committee and an active Communications program all provide avenues through which members actively participate in carrying out the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.