History of Elizabeth Baptist Church
In 1928, six members of Mount Vernon Baptist Church, (Atlanta, GA), took a step of faith and birthed Elizabeth Baptist Church, naming it after the mother of John the Baptist. The following year, in March 1929, Reverend E.D. Florence and the members of Elizabeth moved to a storefront at 100 Taliaferro Street. Here, in its new place of worship, God blessed the ministry by adding to its number and strengthened the congregation through the formation of auxiliaries. These auxiliaries focused on growing each member spiritually, socially, and economically. This foundation, with a focus of Christ at the ministry’s center, set the stage for the legacy of Elizabeth Baptist church.
After the passing of Reverend Florence, Reverend Milner was called to lead Elizabeth and served from 1936 until 1938. Reverend Gates then led the congregation, and under his pastorate, the church moved to 556 Tatnall Street in 1940. Upon Reverend Gates’ passing in 1945, Reverend R.L. McKibbins was appointed to serve Elizabeth as its Pastor. Under Reverend McKibbins, three deacons were ordained, one of which was James E. Hightower, Sr., who would then go on to serve as Elizabeth’s next pastor in 1959.
Under the leadership of Pastor Hightower, Elizabeth moved to 3675 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive (formerly Gordon Road). It was here that the ministry grew to over 2500 members. During his season of service, auxiliaries and ministries were formed to train the congregation on function, order, stewardship as well as caring for the Pastor and his family. Pastor Hightower’s anointing and faithful teaching of the Word of God led to the spiritual growth of the membership and Elizabeth being recognized as one of the leading churches in Atlanta. By 1969, more than twelve ministers were licensed and ordained along with additional deacons to serve the growing congregation. Pastor Hightower also served as Dean of Student Services at Carver Bible College. His commitment and passion for the spiritual formation of members at Elizabeth resulted in implementing the process to help believers to grow. Pastor Hightower’s philosophy of ministry was, “We are Bible-based, Christ-centered and Holy Spirit-led.” This led to the creation of a Bible study curriculum that was developed to help members become rooted and established in their faith. By 1982, the church had been so blessed that a new sanctuary was needed to accommodate the ministry’s growth.
In 1990, 29.6 acres of land were purchased; and, an additional 4.5 acres were donated to the church. This land was located at 4245 Cascade Road. Pastor Hightower and the Deacon Board brought the plans for building a new sanctuary to the church body, who voted to move forward. This would become the home of Elizabeth Baptist Church’s current main campus.
After thirty-five years of faithful service and a ministry set on a firm foundation, Pastor James E. Hightower, Sr. resigned in 1994. One year later, the church turned to its youth minister, Craig L. Oliver, from St. Petersburg, Florida, to serve as its sixth pastor. With Pastor Oliver at Elizabeth’s helm, the church moved to 4245 Cascade Road in November 1996 and began the work that would lead to the ministry as it exists today. In conjunction with the land that was initially purchased, Elizabeth acquired an additional 80 acres.
Over the years, Elizabeth Baptist Church has journeyed through the eyes of faith and is becoming stronger and in 2007 the leadership team developed the mission, vision, values, and purpose (MV2P). God has been faithful to the ministry and honored His promise to do “…exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
With a mission “To lovingly lead lost individuals into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to develop mature believers,” God has enlarged the territory of Elizabeth to witness in “Jerusalem (Atlanta), and in all Judea and Samaria (State and National), and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Global)” (Acts 1:8). Elizabeth is passionate about serving both its local and global communities.
Evidence of God’s faithfulness and favor has been seen in the growth of Elizabeth Baptist Church’s membership. Almost 13,000 men, women and children are taught the truth of God’s Word at Elizabeth’s fourteen weekly services. Elizabeth Baptist Church has become one church in five locations: EBC: Atlanta (1996), EBC: Fairburn (2008), EBC: Smyrna (2009), EBC: Douglasville (2011) and EBC: Conyers (2014).
Dr. Oliver is a man whose passion for education and spiritual growth can not only be seen through his preaching and teaching, but also the fifty plus ministries that serve the holistic needs of the church, and the desire to see young people grow. Through the formation of Indelible Impressions Learning Center, Elizabeth has touched almost 2,000 families and counting. The Greenhouse ministry also serves as a staple of spiritual growth for our children and serves children and youth from infancy through the 12th grade.
In order to facilitate live preaching with a consistent message within our model of, “One Church in Multi-locations,” Dr. Oliver developed the Collaborative Preaching Team (CPT). This innovative coed team approaches the pulpit with an exegetical style of preaching that connects with the hearts of those desperate for the unadulterated truth of God’s Word.
Currently, the church has been honored to serve approximately 2,500 hours of local outreach with creative ministries, such as the Taste of Grace Food Truck, which has served over 4,000 people, the Donna Center, Hosea Helps Mommy and Me event, and many more. Globally, Elizabeth has sent out over 40 active missionaries and served over 1,200 men, women and children. The handprint of God, through the footwork of our members, can be seen in Ghana, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Romania and South Africa with more to come.
Elizabeth Baptist Church, with the never-ending strength of the Lord and the leadership of Dr. Oliver, we believe in “Multiplying Disciples Who Make a Difference”. As we approach this new season of ministry, we do so with greater intentionality to continue to advance God’s Kingdom.