Episcopal Church of the Nativity celebrates 20 years in Fayetteville

New members were welcomed Sunday when the Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Fayetteville, celebrated its 20th anniversary. From left in front are Nicole Philips, Diana Richburg, Gail Kirby, Ross W. Terry, Kimisha Scarborough (holding her son, Keymani, who was baptized), Kiora Nichols (Keymani’s godmother), Edward Saha and Shirley Saha. Standing in the rear are the Rev. Rita Henault, rector of the parish, and the Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Photo/Special.

The Episcopal Church of the Nativity, which began its life as a congregation two decades ago in a storefront space in Fayetteville, celebrated its 20th anniversary last Sunday.

The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, was on hand to preside at the Eucharist, preach, and administer sacraments of confirmation, and reception of new members. Both he and the Rev. Rita Henault, rector, also officiated at a baptism.

Persons confirmed were Nicole Philips, Ross W. Terry, Kimisha Scarborough, Edward Saha and Shirley Saha. Those received into membership from other churches were Diana Richburg and Gail Kirby. Scarborough’s eight-month-old son, Keymani, was baptized.

After the service, a dinner described as a “multicultural feast” was served in the parish hall. Since the congregation consists of people from throughout the United States and from other countries, they brought dishes typical of their home areas.

Nativity grew from a small group of Episcopalians living in Fayette County who began conducting services of Evening Prayer in their homes in 1988. The following year, the Diocese of Atlanta established what was called the Fayette County Episcopal Mission. After some months of continued worship services in private homes, the group moved to a rented storefront on Commerce Drive in Fayetteville.

The Rev. Pat Merchant was appointed the mission’s first vicar in March 1990.

Funds to aid in the construction of a church building and other facilities became available to the new Fayette County congregation after the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in East Point closed in 1989. By the time the Rev. Bob Hudak was appointed the second vicar in 1999, plans were well under way for construction of the present church structure on Antioch Road, just off Georgia Highway 92 south of Fayetteville.

The first Eucharist was celebrated in that building on Palm Sunday 2000.

Later that year, a memorial garden for cremains was dedicated in the pine forest on the church grounds.

Nativity transitioned from mission to parish status in 2002, and its education building was constructed in 2004.

Henault has been rector since February 2007.

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