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The History of Decatur Bible Chapel

Everything starts with a vision. A vision incites a leader to act and helps him to motivate those around him. It was the vision of Theodore Michael Flowers to plant “a New testament church in every major city of the Southeast” [USA]. After establishing Community Bible Chapel in Atlanta, Georgia, the fruits of his labor began to blossom as the church increased in number. The church formed cell group Bible studies for members living in different parts of Metro Atlanta in order to aid them in their walk with Christ. The group meeting in the Stone Mountain / Decatur area was the largest, and its members began discussing the possibilities of forming a separate church.

With fervent prayer and deliberation, the decision was made to start a new church in Decatur, Georgia, and in October 1991, fifty-four people left Community Bible Chapel to form Decatur Bible Chapel (DBC). The group was led by the founding Pastor, Dr. T. Michael Flowers, along with Elders F. Ronnie Hart and Bill Gordon. Bros. Charles Levene and Ed. Gardner were the Deacons. The new church met temporarily in the aerobic room at the YMCA on Snapfinger Road in Decatur.

The members of the young congregation gathered each Sunday with great enthusiasm and eagerly waited for the Lord to begin working in and through them. They came early on Sunday mornings so that they would have time to replace the floor exercise mats with carpet before services began, to protect the wood floor from being scuffed by high heels. Chairs, taken from a storage closet in the facility were set in rows, and these were supplemented by additional chairs brought by some saints, along with sound equipment. When the service was over, the process was reversed, and the room was restored to its original state. The members cheerfully continued this ritual for two years, during which time they engaged in heavy fundraising activities- including organizing a benefit concert performed by a choir from New York.

The church was also very passionate about community outreach and canvassed different neighborhoods. Several sisters played a vital part in this effort and there was great success during those many hours of visitation and witnessing.

As the membership increased, a search was undertaken for a permanent facility. Several church buildings were looked at, and the idea of constructing a new building was also considered.   The Southern Gospel Mission Association, (SGMA), formed in 1966 by a number of Christian business men for the purpose of facilitating and supporting T. Michael Flowers’ work as he was led by the Holy Spirit, became aware of this effort. The Association owned   a plot of land in Lithonia, GA., purchased from the sale of a house it had owned in Savannah, GA, and on which it had planned to build a multi-purpose Resource Center to be used by all Brethren Assemblies in the area.  SGMA realized that the land was big enough to put up a church, without affecting the plans for the Resource Center, and so donated three acres to Decatur Bible Chapel to build a church. Two members of the church, experienced in the building industry, performed the design of the building in conformity to the governing Codes, and construction followed shortly after the completion of the design. Bro. Ronnie Hart, along with the other Elders and the Deacons spearheaded the building project.

As work progressed, enthusiastic members – men and women – flocked to the site frequently to encourage and help. Some used whatever tools they had, and others used their bare hands to remove rocks and debris that were blasted by demolition crews. Members expended their time and energy to ensure that the building was not only compliant with County-approved design documents, but also that it was pleasing to God. Others like Bros. Ed Gardner and Roy Blair, retired at the time, spent every day on-site helping in any way necessary. They worked tirelessly to put the finishing touches on the building and were honored for their service at the grand opening. They were both Deacons and have since gone home to be with the Lord. No doubt they are now reaping the rewards for their work, and their legacy continues to live on in the church.

The saints of Decatur Bible Chapel demonstrated their dedication to the Lord throughout the building process, but the greatest test of their faith came when the building funds were exhausted and the church needed more money than it was qualified to borrow. The leaders brought the issue before the church and asked members to consider lending money interest free to the church with the promise of repayment within two years. Those with savings or other disposable income gladly gave loans ranging from one thousand to twenty thousand dollars.  Most of the loans were repaid as promised, but some members chose to convert their loans- some substantial – into gifts to the church. Even with the financial challenges that the church faced, the members were undaunted and placed their trust in God. By the time the building was finished, the funds were totally depleted and there was no money to furnish the church. Once again, members were asked to aid by purchasing a chair for each member of their family.   Most people bought several more than they needed as an additional donation to the church.

One of Decatur Bible Chapel’s main goals has been to reach the lost with the Gospel of Christ. This was certainly in line with Bro. Flowers’ vision and consistent with the mandate of our Faith. Accordingly, from early on there was significant emphasis on the support of missionaries. The initial focus was on the support of local missionaries who reached out to college students and evangelized inner-city youths. The missionary support expanded to international missionaries and even the involvement of the church members in short term mission trips.

Among the overseas missionary projects undertaken by DBC, the most ambitious was a partnership with the Maringo assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, building on a relationship with the Kenya assembly which began before Decatur Bible Chapel was established. The late sister Earline James, then a member of Community Bible Chapel, who had lived and worked in Kenya for a number of years, had invited Dr. Flowers to Nairobi to conduct a seminar for a few days.  As a result of his ministry there, many people responded to his teachings and gave their lives to Christ. Recognizing that there was a need for more evangelism in Nairobi, Dr. Flowers began making yearly trips, bringing more people with him with each successive visit.

These visits eventually led in 1998 to the formation of the first official Kenyan Missions Team. The team was comprised of members from Decatur Bible Chapel, Community Bible Chapel and other sister churches. Over the years, the ministry of Nairobi’s Maringo Chapel has grown at an exponential rate, and has given birth to three other churches. Maringo has several outreach ministries including the Dorcas Sewing Project that teaches women life skills that will enable them to work and provide for their families. Maringo Chapel also ministers to school children and evangelizes primarily in the Kiambiu slum community of Nairobi, giving hope to those who live in an otherwise hopeless environment. Feeding the hungry is a major part of the ministry in Nairobi. Each week, hundreds of people receive what is sometimes their only substantial meal, while they are also being fed spiritually.

Apart from Kenya, Decatur Bible Chapel presently contributes to the support of missionaries in Liberia, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. The work of these missionaries vary as they cater to the spiritual needs of the people God has placed in their lives.  Some missionaries work on translating the Bible into dialects with little or no known written language.  Some care for orphans, while others operate schools that use biblical principles to educate Muslim children.

The faithful support of these fulltime missionaries by Decatur Bible Chapel which began with money from the general church income, was vastly expanded in 1999, with the implementation of the Faith Promise Offering Program, as the Lord began to lead the church toward missions in a more focused manner. This concept, modelled after the missionary program at the People’s Church in Toronto, Canada, was introduced by one of our members familiar with the program, and who had a passion for missions. The premise behind the FPO is that each member is asked every year to make a commitment to contribute to the missionary funds. The fund has on occasions been significantly increased by outside contributions.

While Decatur Bible Chapel’s international missionary involvement was growing, evangelism and local outreach was taking place locally. On occasions, visits into the surrounding communities were organized to distribute religious tracts, and several outreach programs were established. These include regular visits to a nursing home, a short term shelter for women and children, an apartment with immigrant children, and most recently, the establishment of a soup kitchen at the church. In addition, annual events planned by the women of DBC and which provide opportunities for evangelism are held at the church.

The other ministries at the church continue to be guided by the hand of the Lord. Among them are the Women’s ministry, the Men’s ministry, the Youth ministry and the Children’s ministry. The Women’s ministry continues to be very active, and the Children Ministry has expanded under the committed leadership of several sisters of the church and has served to draw people to DBC. God has used all these ministries to meet the unique needs of each group to His Glory.

  As Decatur Bible Chapel expanded its reach locally and internationally, it also began to experience growth in its membership which currently stands at approximately 200.  Most of this growth came through the relocation of believers from other out of state churches to DBC. To accommodate the growth, the church purchased the remainder of SGMA’s land and built the T. Michael Flowers Family Life Center in honor of its founder. This building serves as the venue for special services where large attendance is anticipated, and as a multipurpose facility where banquets, wedding receptions, and other celebratory events are held. 

In 2008, the Family Life Center became the home of the now defunct Ella’s Caring Hands, an adult day care center named after the beloved wife of Dr. T. Michael Flowers, and staffed, by church members. The day care center offered a safe environment for seniors with mild to moderate impairment, while giving relief to fulltime caregivers. The building now serves as the venue for the recently started Soup Kitchen ministry which provides food for needy people every other Tuesday, and provides opportunity to witness to them.

With the growth of DBC came an awareness among the elders of a growing need of personal ministry to the body of believers, and a need to streamline and formalize more of the activities of the church. To meet these needs, the elders appointed, in 2000, one of the then elders and now a past member, Brother Fenton Richards, to serve as full time worker and pastor, while operating within the plural leadership structure of the Assembly.  During his tenure, DBC membership continued to increase, ministries benefitted significantly from his energy and dedicated, full time input, and DBC became more tightly knit with the assemblies in Kenya, helping to train young men there as leaders in their church and communities. It was during this time also that the work at DBC was crystalized by developing the Church’s Mission Statement as, “Exalt The Lord Jesus Christ in worship, Expound His Word through discipleship, Expand His Kingdom through evangelism, Encourage the body through fellowship and to Equip the church for ministry”.

The Mission Statement, empowered by the Spirit, continues to guide us in the work of the Lord here at DBC. The elders have used it as a template to address and enhance   DBC ministries, and as a basis to assess the overall spiritual growth of the church. This has led to increased focus in areas requiring more member development, such as Worship and Evangelism.


As we look to the future, we keep with us the memory of all those saints that have moved on to Glory, but none more than our dear Brother Flowers, who went home to be with our Lord in October, 2015, after being lovingly cared for by his daughter, Sharon Flowers. The work of Brother Flowers has been chronicled in a book, written by Sister Marjorie Powell (now a past member) and published by DBC, entitled: ‘The Flowers Garden’. It is a tribute to his life and ministry.  

 The work that he began many years ago, led by the Lord, is now ours at DBC to take to completion. This we endeavor to do with the help of the precious Holy Spirit.

This history was originally researched and compiled by Sis. Tamoy Thomas, a past member.

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