In July 1948, Alvin Shaw wrote that according to information he received from Mr. John Cook, brother of Miss Idella Cook, who were some of the first to attend school at Welcome All, the “Welcome All Schoolhouse was built in the latter part of the year of 1886, and the first school was taught in 1887 by Miss Jennie McCowen of Fairburn, Georgia. In 1888 and 1889, school was taught by S. B. Lee. Sunday School was taught at the same time.”
For several years prior to 1908, the people in Welcome All Community had talked of the need for a church in their community. The nearest churches were Shadnor, Enon, Mt. Gilead, and Red Oak Christian. These churches formed almost a square around Welcome All, the nearest one requiring somewhere around two (2) hours to go and come to church. This talk of a church culminated in a presbytery being called on July 24, 1908, in the schoolhouse across the road from what is now Welcome All Road Cemetery. Below is a quote of the minutes of that meeting:
“Red Oak, Georgia – July 24, 1908
At the request of several brethren and sisters, a presbytery was called consisting of Reverend F. J. Dodd, C. J. Short and J. A. Duncan to organize a Baptist Church at Welcome All. The presbytery was organized by electing F. J. Dodd, Moderator and C. J. Short, Clerk. After the enrollment of names the ARTICLES OF FAITH were presented by the Moderator and accepted by the members constituting the Church. A motion was carried to adopt the ARTICLES OF FAITH of Providence Church. Prayer by Brother Dodd. The Church went into the choice of pastor and clerk, resulting in the selection of Joe A. Duncan, Pastor and W. O. Harris, Clerk. The third Sabbath and Saturday before was chosen as meeting days and agreed to have preaching meeting on the fifth (5th) Sabbath in August.
F. J. Dodd, Moderator
C. J. Short, Clerk”
As far as can be determined from the record, members who joined the church on the day the church was organized are as follows:
- J. W. Guice
- Rawleigh Jaillette
- Cora Jaillette
- B. F. Harris
- Fannie Harris
- James Harris
- Gertrude Harris
- Olin Harris
- B. P. Hudgens
- Fannie Hudgens
- Dallas Hudgens
- Mattie Hudgens
All twelve (12) of these members came by letter. In August, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Duncan became members by letter. Then the first (1st) of September a revival was held. It must have been a great revival, for twenty-seven (27) new members were added to the church roll, eleven (11) by letter and sixteen (16) by baptism, bringing the total membership to forty-one (41).
Those coming by letter were:
- Mr. and Mrs. Ramon Coleman
- Mr. and Mrs. J. O. Davenport
- Mrs. Pearl Guice
- Mr. and Mrs. Joe H. Jaillette
- Mr. and Mrs. W. O. Scarborough
- Mr. Will Simpson
- Mrs. Nola Stacks
Those who came into the Church by baptism were:
- Grover Jaillette
- Mattie Jaillette (Harris)
- Nolie Johnson
- Willie Montgomery
- Cora Scarborough
- Jess Scarborough
- Mose Scarborough
- John D. Stacks
- Homer Harris
- John Harris
- Belle Harris
- Pellie Harris
- Lola Hudgens
- Charlie Hudgens
- Clifford Hudgens
At the close of this revival on September 12, 1908, with a membership of forty-one (41) Christians, it was decided to build a church building. All of the meetings up to this time were held in the schoolhouse. A building site committee was appointed consisting of R. J. Jaillette, B. F. Harris and B. P. Hudgens. A finance committee was appointed to raise money with which to build, consisting of J. O. Davenport, Chairman, B. F. Harris, B. P. Hudgens, and Frank Scarborough.
By meeting day on October 10, 1908, a building site (adjoining what is now Welcome All Road Cemetery) had been selected, and it was decided to build the church thirty-four (34) feet wide and forty-four (44) feet long. At this same conference, Brother Frank Harris was appointed Treasurer of the Building Committee until completion. The building site was given to the church by B. P. Hudgens. The date actual construction began on the church is not known, but it was near the first of November 1908. The cost of the church is not known, for very few times in the records can any mention of money be found.
On only one occasion in the early records of the church can mention of a pastor’s salary be found. The salary of Joe Duncan was fifty ($50.00) dollars for his first year as pastor.
Most of the lumber to build the church was cut off the farms of the Baker, Harris, Jaillette, Coleman, Scarborough, Hudgens, Cook, and Trentham families. Mr. A. Smith sawed most of the logs. Most of the labor was free and the building was built by calling work days.
The dedication service was held on the fifth Sunday in August just 13 months after the organization of the church. The sermon was preached by Reverend J. J. Bennett and Charlie Short.
The first recorded burial in what was then Welcome All Baptist Church Cemetery was that of W. Olin Harris who died on March 24, 1910. The second burial was that of John M. Simpson who died exactly 2 months later on May 24, 1910. No one else is recorded to have been buried in 1910.
The records of the first twenty (20) years of the church are full of charges being brought against the members of the church for the purpose of trying to get the people to live up to the ARTICLES OF FAITH.
By 1920, the church had a membership of one hundred forty-five (145) and in the late ’20s, four Sunday School rooms were added to the back of the building.
During the ’30s, basement rooms were added, and the spirit of progress and growth continued. The ’40s saw the remodeling of the main building, and the 50’s witnessed the East and West educational wings added to the church.
In 1956, a house lot on Welcome All Road was given to the church by Mr. Alvin Shaw for the purpose of constructing a pastorium with the stipulation that an acceptable house be built as approved by Mr. Shaw. The plan was brought before the church and accepted on October 14, 1956. The pastorium was dedicated in June 1957.
The church was still growing, and in 1962, the original church property became inadequate to meet the needs of a thriving community. Plans to purchase additional property at the corner of Welcome All Road and Will Lee Road were presented to the church on October 10, 1962, at a price of $3,000 presently and $2,000 within 90 days. On November 14, 1962, plans and drawings of the proposed new building were submitted and approved.
In 1964, final plans were formulated for a two-story educational building and temporary sanctuary to be erected. Work on the new site was begun in March 1965 and completed in February 1966. The dedication service was held on February 27, 1966.
The dedication sermon was preached by Dr. Searcy S. Garrison, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Others participating in the service were:
- Mr. Jack U. Harwell, Editor, The Christian Index
- Mr. R. R. Hallman, Hallman Brothers Construction Co.
- Mr. Gene Lynn, Architect, Windsor & Lynn, Inc.
- Rev. Kenneth B. Shaw, Pastor, Unity Baptist Church, Newnan
- Rev. Bob A. Baxter, Pastor, Mt. Harmony Baptist Church
- Rev. E. Willard Baxter, Pastor, Welcome All Baptist Church
By 1967, the membership had reached 576.
In the fall of 1968, discussions were held concerning changing the name of the church to one more appropriate for a growing community. On November 6, 1968, it was approved to change the name to Forest Hills Baptist Church.
The decade of the seventies was a time of exciting growth. The church was growing and at the same time was reaching out financially to help establish Pioneer Mission Churches such as Mt. Redoubt Baptist Church, Alaska, Temple Baptist Church in York, Pennsylvania, and Shrewsbury Mission in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania.
The church was thriving in 1970, and changes were taking place in the convention. At this time, the children’s department was remodeled to comply with the new grading system recommended by the Southern Baptist Convention.
In February 1971, the church approved a plan to add a baptistry and move the choir from the side to the back of the pulpit. Until this time, baptisms were held at neighboring churches. The year 1971 also saw the pastorium sold since most pastors, by this time, preferred to own their house and build up equity so that when retirement came, they would not be without a home.
Education Building B was added and dedicated on October 29, 1972. At this time the church was renting space from the Welcome All Civic Club across the street for additional Sunday School space.
The year 1975 saw the purchase of a new organ and hymnals for the sanctuary. A mobile unit was also purchased to be used as additional Sunday School space. In the mid-’70s the carpet was replaced in the sanctuary and vestibule and new carpet was added to the upstairs rooms, halls, and office suite.
A new sound system was placed in the sanctuary and a Youth/Educational Director’s office was added. In the seventies, several of the young people of the church dedicated their lives to full-time Christian service. By 1976 the membership had grown to 795 and the church budget for 1978 was $146,860.
Just as the seventies had seen exciting growth and commitment the eighties witnessed dramatic changes in the surrounding neighborhoods. In April of 1994, a contract was signed to sell the property and building to The Kingdom of God Evangelistic Outreach Ministry and to immediately begin sharing the facilities. The Kingdom of God congregation had been meeting in the facilities of a hotel near the airport and felt that being able to meet in the community which they served would enable them to be more effective. On February 27, 1995, the sale was finalized with the final service for Forest Hills Church being set for March 26, 1995.
After being considered abandoned for 25 years, the cemetery finally had new caretakers in 2020. Welcome All Road Cemetery Preservation Association Inc was formed on February 25th of that year for the sole purpose of protecting, restoring, maintaining, and preserving this sacred site. Several descendants of those buried here formed the association with the realization that collective organization and action would achieve more than a few individuals independently trying to do the same. We are honored to be called to this service and are here to assist anyone in matters regarding the cemetery.