Oakhurst is a truly diverse congregation—not only racially, but also in terms of members’ sexual orientation, level of education, mental and physical abilities, and economic status. Oakhurst has become a community that truly celebrates difference.
How did Oakhurst Presbyterian become such an unusual church?
Oakhurst began in 1921 with a group of Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists meeting under a large tent on the corner of East Lake Drive and Second Avenue in Decatur, Georgia. Membership in this white, blue-collar church reached 900 by 1960. However, as African Americans began moving into the neighborhood throughout the 1960s and 70s, membership declined until only 80 remained.
But the existing white and black members who stayed were committed, even as pitched battles over segregation were being fought all over the US, to a vision of all people sharing in the life of Christ—to creating a multicultural congregation, to shaping worship and fellowship open to all, and to growing together in faith and understanding. In 1983, the congregation called Nibs Stroupe and Caroline Leach to lead in implementing this vision.
Today, membership numbers around 300, and we continue to grow. Caroline and Nibs have both retired, and we are thriving under the energetic leadership of Interim Pastor Leigh Campbell-Taylor and Associate Pastor Heather Chase. Following the process of our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), we are now discerning the person God is calling to serve as our next pastor. But our goal as a congregation remains unchanged: to create space for the Spirit in our hearts and in our life together, where there can be genuine dialog, mutual understanding, and acceptance of one another, sending us out into the world to proclaim a whole new reality centered in God’s revelation to us in Jesus Christ.
A full account of our history can be found in O Lord, Hold Our Hands, by Nibs Stroupe and Caroline Leach.
What We Believe
We are a community of diversities, which empowers us to confront God’s truth in the world.
Through Jesus Christ, the dividing walls are broken down, leading us to affirm that we are called to be one family–through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God is active in the life of Oakhurst and has given us a vision of hope,
inspiring us in the proclamation of the absolute power of God’s love and God’s grace.
We are rooted in the truth that nothing can separate us from the love of God!
And, the very thing we once feared–our differences–has empowered us to proclaim the
Good News of the Gospel, breaking down the barriers of the world,
and drawing us together to become whole in Christ.
From many threads, one tapestry.
From many streams, one river.
From many branches, one tree.
We are Oakhurst!