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Our History

The Greenforest [Community] Baptist Church was founded in 1958 with 135 charter members who met in the Wadsworth Elementary School on Greenforest Drive, Decatur, Georgia. The church was incorporated on June 5, 1959. Church buildings were erected on property purchased adjacent to the school in the early 1960s.

In the early to mid-1970s, church membership began to decline as the racial makeup of the community began to transition. On one Sunday morning in 1977, in what has been termed as “The Exodus Experience,” nearly all of the Caucasian church members, including the pastor, moved their membership from Greenforest Baptist Church. The remaining membership operated as a mission congregation for approximately 18 months under the guidance of the Atlanta Baptist Association (ABA).

The Atlanta Baptist Association assigned one of its staff members, the Rev. John H. Cross- former pastor of the 16th St Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama (bombed September 15, 1963) as interim pastor. After stabilizing the mission church through his wise and seasoned leadership, Rev. Cross played an influential role in Rev. Dr. George O. McCalep, Jr. being called to serve as the senior pastor of the 25-member congregation in 1979. During his early pastorate, the deed to the property was regained from the ABA and the church transitioned from mission status into an autonomous, self-governing Baptist church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 1989, as the Lord blessed the church under the leadership of Rev. McCalep, the Greenforest congregation took several bold steps of faith as they purchased the 16-acre Mt. Carmel Christian Church facility located on Rainbow Drive and subsequently added an additional 78 acres. Under Pastor McCalep’s 27 years of visionary leadership, Greenforest experienced tremendous expansion and growth in population, facilities, ministries, and influence as a model church across Georgia and North America. Rev. McCalep served as senior pastor until the Lord called him home on December 23, 2006.

In January 2007, the Rev. Dennis Mitchell (who served as the Greenforest Executive Pastor from 1996 through 1998) was called to serve as interim pastor as the church family experienced a period of mourning over the loss of Pastor McCalep. In July 2007, a Pulpit Search Committee was appointed to launch a nationwide search for a new senior pastor in accordance with the church by-laws. During the search period, our Executive Pastor, Rev. Herman Cody, served as the administrative and spiritual leader, keeping the church focused on God’s perfect will for Greenforest through continuous and purposeful corporate prayer.

On Wednesday evening, November 7, 2007, Rev. Dennis Mitchell was selected overwhelmingly by a secret ballot vote of the congregation (84.1%) as the new Greenforest Senior Pastor. His leadership became official on November 15th, a bittersweet day for the Greenforest family because on the afternoon of the same day our first interim pastor and civil rights legend, Rev. John H. Cross, transitioned to glory.

On Saturday, August 6, 2016, Rev. Dr. Emory Berry, Jr. was selected as the 4th Senior Pastor.

In May 2022, Rev. Dr. Pennon Lockhart was named as the interim Senior Pastor of Greenforest Community Baptist Church.

Serving the South DeKalb community through its many ministries, missions, and services, Greenforest's 92-acre campus includes the Greenforest-McCalep Christian Academic Center which houses an accredited Academy (grades Pre-K4 through 12th grade).

To God be the Glory for the things He has and continues to do in the life of “The Forest”!