More than 250 people attended special dedication services at the new Vanderhorst CME Church in Thomson last Sunday afternoon.
The old building serving as the 55-year-old church, located off Main Street next to the Thomson Fire Department Headquarters, was burned down earlier this year to make room for a new, larger church, which now can accommodate up to 300 people.
Serving as its pastor is the Rev. John W. Smalley, who also is a member of Thomson City Council.
Rev. Smalley said he and other members of the church had long looked forward to the dedication of their new church.
"It was a real special occasion in the history of our church," Rev. Smalley said. "I was very pleased with the number of people who came out to help us dedicate our new church."
Bishop Othal H. Lakey, however, who had been scheduled to deliver the keynote message, was unable to attend because he recently underwent eye surgery.
"That was a little disappointing to me, personally, but he's promised to make it up to us in the future," Rev. Smalley said with a laugh. "He sent us the Rev. Jane E. Thomas and she did just a marvelous job."
In his welcoming remarks to church members and those visiting for the special dedication, Rev. Smalley said, "It is with humble appreciation to our Lord and Savior that I greet you as pastor of this magnificent church. The presence of God can be felt in this building that we dedicate to Him today. My mission as pastor is to serve, promote and to lift up His name to every corner of this community and beyond."
Rev. Smalley said the commitment at Vanderhorst CME Church "is increased each day as we behold the wonders of God. Being small in number, yet achieving what we have is surely a testimony to the greatness of the God we serve."
Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry welcomed the new church to the city and commended two members of the choir, saying, "You can tell they really have their hearts in their singing by the smiles on their faces."
Rev. Thomas, who serves as the presiding elder of the Macon-Barnesville District, chose to deliver her message from Psalm 97:12, entitled, The Remembrance of His Holiness.
"This time of dedication calls to remembrance the purifying of the House of God as it relates to the Temple of ancient times," Rev. Thomas said. "This individual church building has been called into place and the presence of God through the Word is the foundation for this spiritual House.
"In this very fast-paced culture, with its transparent institution, it is essential for the church to stand as a constant reminder that reaffirms the sacredness of the holiness of God that is to be exemplified in the words of our calls to worship, our responsive readings, benedictions and all of our music: Holy, Holy, Holy: Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound and All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name."
Rev. Thomas said those words are the constant reminders that call everyone to the remembrance of the holiness of God.
"As a part of the Connectional Church and a reminder of our great Zion, we embrace with integrity lives that ultimately are dependent upon the love of God," Rev. Thomas said. "Our dedication must be the affirmation of the sacredness of God as the true character of the church's mission in this Connectional Church and fast-paced culture."
She went on to say that the holiness of God caused Adam and Eve to recognize their nakedness. The holiness of God changed Job's heart from one of complaining to one of rejoicing.
Others participating in dedication ceremonies included: Rev. Walter Clayton, Montavious Brinson, Rev. Willie Wiley, Rev. J. Ronzell Maness and the Rev. Sarah Cooper.
Music was provided by the combined choirs of Vanderhorst CME Church.