Hope Community Church is a newly formed Presbyterian church in Jacksonville, Alabama. The church actually had its beginning in many ways in Mississippi. It was there that Steve Mayes was serving as the pastor of a Southern Baptist church. Though a Reformed Baptist pastor in theology for many years, in early 2007 he experienced a profound change in belief regarding the meaning and mode of baptism primarily through the reading of Scripture. His beliefs changed from that of believer’s baptism to covenantal or infant baptism.
Because of this change of belief, Steve began to pursue a change of direction in ministry from the Baptist to the Presbyterian faith. He began attending presbytery meetings in Mississippi and Alabama, forming relationships with ministers in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) denomination, and renewing friendships with some PCA friends from seminary. It was during lunch at one of the presbytery meetings that a retired minister questioned Steve about the possibility of planting a PCA church. This was something that Steve and his wife Ann had talked about, but thought that it might be something they could do in years to come.
It was about this time that Ann talked with a friend in Jacksonville, Alabama and told her about the change in direction that Steve’s ministry was taking. The friend asked if Steve and Ann had ever considered planting a church in Jacksonville and that she and her husband had been praying for the start of a PCA church there for years. Steve and Ann began to pray about this and to look further into the possibility of planting a church in Jacksonville.
In the late summer of 2007, Steve and Ann visited Jacksonville and met with a couple of area ministers about the possibility of planting a church in Jacksonville. One of the ministers was Rick Searle, pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Anniston, Alabama. The other was Corb Heimburger, the executive director of the Alabama Church Planting Network (then the North Alabama Church Planting Network). Both of these men were favorable about the possibility of a new work in Jacksonville. With further prayer and discussions, Steve and Ann believed that the Lord was indeed calling them to northeast Alabama to plant a PCA church.
In October 2007, Steve resigned his position as pastor of the church in Mississipppi. He and Ann purchased a home in Jacksonville and moved with two of their children (Beth and Timothy) on November 1. The Mayes family joined Faith Presbyterian Church in Anniston, with Timothy being baptized in early 2008. Steve had been offered a job with Kraft Foods through the friend whose wife initially suggested the start of a PCA church. Steve remained with Kraft until May 2008 when he took a position as a hospice chaplain serving in the Gadsden area. In June, Steve and Ann attended the PCA’s Church Planting Assessment center in Atlanta and were recommended as church planters.
For the first year after relocating to Alabama, Steve worked to transfer his ordination from the Baptist church to the PCA. He underwent written and oral examinations in the English Bible, theology, and the Book of Church Order and was licensed to serve in the Evangel Presbytery in February 2008. In November of that same year, he was examined in writing and orally in the Sacraments and PCA history and was ordained as a teaching elder. At the same presbytery meeting, Steve was confirmed in his call as the Assistant Pastor for Church Planting at Faith Presbyterian Church in Anniston. Evangel Presbyteryalso approved the Hope Community Church as a mission church of the PCA with Faith Presbyterian serving as the “mother church” for Hope..
In May 2008, Steve and Ann began a Bible study in their home. This Bible study was attended by about ten adults with several children. In the fall the Bible study was moved to the Jacksonville Discount Carpet and Flooring Store to give more space for the adults attending the Bible study and to provide additional room for the growing number of children.
As the Bible studies continued and plans were being made for the acutal launch of public worship, a local Jacksonville church was contacted in the Fall of 2008 about the possibility of leasing some property. The Grace Fellowship Community Church had outgrown their facilities and were moving to the old Ft. McClellan property between Jacksonville and Anniston. By God’s grace and the generosity of the Grace Fellowship church, the Jacksonville property was donated to the church plant by Grace Fellowship as it had been donated to them some years earlier.
Beginning in January 2009, the Bible study for the newly named Hope Community Church, PCA began meeting in the donated property just south of Jacksonville. The property includes a sanctuary capable of seating at least 120 people, two offices, seven classrooms, and a separate fellowship hall buildiing with a full basement. The members of the core group began working to make upgrades and renovations to the property in early 2009. Worship services began at Hope on September 13, 2009.
In September 2013, Hope Community Church was formally organized as a particular church in the Presbyterian Church in America. Steve Mayes was called as the first pastor of Hope. Ron Hindman and Harry Knight were elected to serve as the first Ruling Elders for Hope.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)