In April 1962, St. Andrew was founded by a small group of Methodists in northeast Cobb, who had become without a church home after the only Methodist church in the area closed years before. They originally met at Blackwell Elementary School, directly across the street from the present church.
“My dad was one of the most staunched Methodists that you ever seen in your life,” said founding member Sarah Keheley, 89. “He was determined that we had a Methodist church in this neighborhood.”
Keheley’s father, Ed Lewis, did not live to see his dream become a reality. But his daughter, her husband, J.W. Keheley, and their daughter, Susan, were among the 13 charter members of what became St. Andrew. They met at Blackwell on April 12, 1962. The Rev. William Horlock was assigned pastor and the first Sunday worship service took place on April 29 that year.
This upcoming April 29, St. Andrew will welcome former pastor, Dr. Gerald Thurman, to deliver the 10 a.m. Sunday message on the anniversary of the church’s original worship service. It will be the only service that day. Following service, the celebration will continue with an anniversary luncheon at 11:30 a.m.
The cost of the homecoming dinner is $6 for adults and $3 for children. The dinner is open to guests, however, reservations must be made by noon April 27 by calling the church office at (770) 926-3488.
Beginning May 6, St. Andrew will continue its 50th anniversary celebration with an old-fashioned revival featuring the Rev. Tom Atkins. Atkins will deliver the message at all three services that Sunday (8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.), as well as at evening services at 6:45 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday.
“We started at Blackwell school across the street with just a few people, and we’re celebrating 50 years of our Christian service,” said the Rev. Mack Riley, senior pastor of St. Andrew since 2006.
In April 1962, at St. Andrew’s first worship service, there were just 44 people who attended, recalled Keheley. “People were definitely excited,” she said of that Sunday’s atmosphere.
First United Methodist Church of Marietta was instrumental in helping the congregation get on its feet and is considered by St. Andrew members to be their mother church. The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and its local district purchased 6 acres of land for the young congregation on the present site of the church.
In 1964, 290 members moved into their newly constructed church building on the land, according to church records. That building is now serves as a community room. In 1973, an education building opened. In April 1985, the church broke ground on what’s now the main sanctuary. The Keheley Center, a multi-purpose facility, was dedicated by 1,300 members in June 1999.
Today, more than 350 families from north Cobb and southern Cherokee counties call St. Andrew their spiritual home.
“It’s very mission-oriented and very outward thinking,” Riley said of the church. “There’s some many ways in this church that we strive to do what Jesus said about to the least of these — if you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it under me.”
The Rev. Angie Crummie, associate pastor, said the congregation is very involved in MUST Ministries, as well as a variety of United Methodist missions. In addition, a men’s ministry serves families in need at Thanksgiving and Christmas. A women’s ministry is heavily involved in missions. An Appalachia Service Project has been helping in Appalachia for about 30 years. And the Andrew Christian School is busy serving children in Haiti.
“Prayerfully, we’ll continue in our mission work,” Riley said of the church’s future.
“So many churches look inward and not outward. It’s both for us. We want to spiritually nourish the membership, but also go out from here and we hope to continue to do that.”