“The church has a history of serving the community,” Steve Vellines, member of the centennial celebration steering committee said. “With this project we want to connect with the neighborhood and help the elderly in the neighborhood by cleaning up their yards.”
Vellines said the idea behind this project was designed so anyone could be involved and it did not require a certain skill set. He said the church’s history deals with partnering to help heal any racial strife in the local community and this project helps the church not only to celebrate the past but also reconnect with the neighborhood.
“It is important that we are remembering all that God has got us involved in,” the Rev. Melanie Vaughn-West said.
Besides the service project on Saturday, the church will celebrate the arts that evening. Sunday, the church will celebrate the decades with former ministers participating in the worship service. Oakhurst was founded in a home and started as a Sunday school. It remained a traditional church until the 60s when former the Rev. John Nichol insisted the church allow African-Americans to attend the service.
After this, church membership decreased and the church moved to its location at 222 E. Lake Drive to become more involved with the neighborhood.
In 1972, the church ordained two female deacons and two years later ordained a female minister.
Oakhurst also helped to resettle refugees from Cuba and started a program for recovery addicts in the ‘80s after the church detected a connection between homelessness and addiction.
“We continue to seek out those further callings,” Vaughn-West said. “We seek ways to be more helpful to each other.”
Since the founding of the church, members remain connected to the local community with the establishment of many local charities such as the Oakhurst Recovery Program, Decatur Emergency Assistance Ministry and more.