Local News

October 19, 2013

Church plans debt-free dedication

Tunnel Hill — Sharon Ferney was looking for a church home in 2001 when a yellow pamphlet came in the mail. She tossed it on her desk at work to get lost in other papers, but it kept resurfacing.

“It just kept coming to the top,” she said. “I finally said, ‘I need to clean off my desk. Let me read it so I can throw it away.’”

The pamphlet was from Christian Fellowship Assembly and said “something along the lines of ‘If you’re tired of funeral music at church, come see us,’” she said. “I said I was going to check this place out.”

When she arrived at the church, she thought she was walking into the doors leading to the back of the sanctuary. But after she walked in, she found it was the side door to the church.

“So I just kind of slid in the third pew,” Ferney said. “They were playing a song by Third Day. At that time it was the only Christian band I knew. I just knew I was home. There was so much love there. The people loved you. You could feel the love of God. I’ve been on the third pew ever since.”

The church was in the former Lions Club building in Tunnel Hill, where it had been since its founding in 1980. The building was added onto and rooms were created as needed.

Over the years “we grew to fuller than we needed to be,” said Dan Hocker, pastor of the church. “But we did not want to be in debt.”

So the church waited until officials could figure out a way to expand.

On Sunday, the church will dedicate its new building, and do so debt free.

The dedication ceremony will be at 2 p.m. at the new building at 3656 Chattanooga Road in Tunnel Hill, the site of the former Great Southern Express building.

The dedication service will include honoring the church’s founders, Odell and Selva Cochran. It will include a song service and testimonies representing different stages of the church’s growth, and will end with guest speaker Rick Collins, the district superintendent for the Georgia Assemblies of God.

The church will still have its regular Sunday morning worship services at 9 and 11 and Sunday school at 10 a.m. A dinner will follow the 11 a.m. service.

“It’s a phenomenal church,” said Bobby Hughes, who has been attending Christian Fellowship Assembly for about five years now. “I believe the reason we’re growing is because God has a vision for the area, and I believe he’s going to use the church to further his kingdom. This will allow our church to continue helping and serving others. ... I believe God has really blessed us.”

When the Cochrans founded the church, Odell paid for the building himself, Hocker said. Hocker is married to the couple’s daughter, Crystal.

“He had a vision to take a full gospel church (or Pentecostal church) to Tunnel Hill,” Hocker said. “He saw this building for sale and prayerfully worked things out.”

So church officials took the same approach when they needed to expand. When a building went up for auction a few years ago, the church was able to buy it. Church members have been working on renovating the building for more than two years now.

“And we still have no bank loans,” Hocker said. “We had some church members give us some loans for 1 percent interest and things like that. We self-financed our project.”

The church’s theme or motto surrounding its new beginnings is “Nothing is too hard for God.”

Services began in the new building a couple of weeks ago. The old building was sold to another church.

“It’s a beautiful church,” Hughes said of the new building. “When we first started looking at it, I thought we should bulldoze it down. It’s just beautiful on the inside. It seats about 300 people. ... The church is not the building. The church is the people. We have to have a building to bring the people into. Building the church and then building the people ... I believe God is preparing us for that next phase to go out and witness to people.”

Hocker said the church strives to reach the community.

“Some people struggle with hopelessness,” he said. “We are about giving hope to people. You have to be really hurting to feel hopeless. If we can have hope, we can have faith, and if we have faith we can serve God.”

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