History of New Jerusalem
Where New Beginnings Are Built Upon a Solid Foundation
It was during a Wednesday chapel service at Grace Heritage Christian School, located in Stone Mountain, GA, in November of 2001 that the Holy Spirit began to move even more powerfully than previous months. Pastor Elijah Collins, Jr. was preaching and teaching the Word of God and young people’s lives were being changed. It was at that “very moment” the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said, “Now you must pastor here.”
Immediately after this chapel service, Pastor Collins met with Faye Patterson, the School’s owner and his Pastor, Reverend Richard B. Haynes to discuss plans of starting a church. Ironically, it had been Pastor Hayne’s vision to plant and seed more churches in Gwinnett County, and in the surrounding areas. This would be a good opportunity to try things out. As Pastor Collins, Mrs. Patterson, and Pastor Haynes began to outline plans to start a church at Grace Heritage, no one could have imagined what God was about to do. Miraculously, everyone’s vision came to fruition. As Pastor Collins began to pray about a name for the church, the Lord directed him to Revelation 3:12. He believed that the church would be a place of new beginnings, and the new beginnings would be built upon tradition. So in August 2002, New Jerusalem Baptist Church: “Where New Beginnings Are Built upon Old Traditions” was founded.
Word soon got out that a new church ministry had been formed, and many people in the surrounding community began to attend the Wednesday noonday bible studies which already had been taking place for over a year for the teachers at Grace Heritage. In September of 2002, in the 1,500 seat sanctuary of Grace Heritage Christian School, New Jerusalem Baptist Church hosted a citywide revival to officially kick off this spiritually dynamic new ministry. At this revival, eighteen people stepped out on faith to join the new church. The original members were: Pastor Elijah Collins, Jr., First Lady Angelyne Collins, Elise Collins, Joshua Collins, Jermaine Evans, Alicia Evans, Aicila Evans, Krystal Collins, Tatia Neal, Nicki Neal, Jacinth Grant, Fitzgerald Miles, Tammie Miles, Tiana Miles, Rev. Lucius Toney, Jr., Toi Hines, Amber Hines, and Ashlee Hines.
Slowly word got out, that there was a solid African American church in the area, and within ten months, the membership had grown to over 120 members. Pastor Collins was inspired by the Holy Spirit to re-examine the Church’s motto and after hearing the word of God and understanding that God did not desire, “Tradition” but instead a “Solid Relationship,” he changed the motto to, “Where New Beginnings Are Built Upon A Solid Foundation.” The worship services were a blessing to all who attended, and lives were being changed. But because of unforeseen circumstances, New Jerusalem was asked to leave the school’s sanctuary. The owner wanted to utilize the space for other purposes.
Just as God was with the children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, He remained with the members of New Jerusalem throughout a series of temporary worship sites. The first temporary location was the Snellville Oaks Movie Theater located in Snellville. Due to this being an active movie theater, New Jerusalem was only allowed to worship between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. The added distance and the earlier worship service made it an inconvenience for many members. Despite the decline in attendance, services were just as uplifting. The church’s three month tenure there yielded one member. Soon a phone call came that opened up the door for Pastor Collins to lead his small congregation to the Cafeteria area at Shiloh High School, located also in Snellville. This move allowed the reinstitution of the 11:00 a.m. worship service. Membership began to slowly increase again during the four month stay at the High School.
Once again the hand of the Lord was manifested on New Jerusalem’s behalf. While he was on his way to a meeting, Pastor Collins was traveling on Dogwood Road in Snellville, when the Lord directed his eyes to look to the left at a small church building set back from the road. It should be noted that he had traveled this way before hundreds of times, but this time there was something different. It was vacant. Through the Lord’s guidance, Pastor Collins met with the owners and inquired about moving into the facility. Initially New Jerusalem was allowed to rent the property for $1000.00 per month. After one year, the owners approached Pastor Collins and told him that they would sell the property to New Jerusalem at $40 thousand less than what they were initially asking. By the grace of the LORD, New Jerusalem purchased the property at 1958 Dogwood Road in July of 2005, with just 75 members for $450 thousand dollars.
At the end of 2006, New Jerusalem’s membership had grown to 125 members. A variety of people from different encounters were sent by the Holy Spirit to finally convinced Pastor Collins to put his picture on the marquee. As a result, many African American citizens in the area realized that there was now an African American Church in the immediate area. Visitors began to flock to the church in large numbers. Although the location had changed a few times, the Word of God was still preached with anointing and the love of Christ.
Many of the people that visited soon joined, and by the end of 2007 the membership had grown to over 300 members.
By 2008 New Jerusalem had implemented the following Ministries to serve the community and the church: Angel Food, Audio/Video, CHOP (Children’s Hour of Power), Christian Education, Dance, Intercessory Prayer, IT, Married Couples, Mens, Music, New Members, Parking/Security, Pastoral Care, R.O.C. (Reach Out and Care), Seniors, Singles, Transportation, Ushers, Womens and Youth.
In December 2008, under the leadership of Pastor Collins, New Jerusalem began a local mission endeavor by feeding the Snellville community a free supper every Monday night. This supper program was designed for those that were feeling the crunch of the declining economy.
In 2015 upgrades were made to the church building. A wheelchair ramp was built, renovation of the fellowship hall and restrooms were completed, and the sanctuary was enlarged.
In May 2016, New Jerusalem Baptist Church relocated to a much larger space at 422 E Crogan Street, Lawrenceville, GA. The Snellville church was 4200 square feet and the new location is 22,000 square feet. This building provides easier access for our senior members because it is a single story building. Immediately upon entering the facility, we had several community outreach events. These included NACA meetings and a Political Action Forum. We also established a Political Action ministry.
Within 2 years of being in the Lawrenceville area, our membership grew by 120 people. The new building did not afford us a baptistery so we used the baptistery at our old location. We sold the church in Snellville in February, 2018. At that time we purchased a portable baptistery and had our first baptism in the Lawrenceville location in March.
We leased the building we are in currently for five years. Toward the end of our second year, we began the task of forming a committee to search for a permanent location.
It is our prayer that New Jerusalem will continue to carry out God’s wishes for His people in the community.