The Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1869 by 12 faithful believers who spent $2.50 to build a brush arbor on the No.12 Highway (now Covington Road). As a result, the first African-American Baptist congregation of Lithonia, Dekalb County, was founded. The Reverend Matthew Mitchell was called to pastor this church and served for one year. In 1870, Reverend John C. Center was called to pastor. Two years later, the Antioch church members purchased three acres of land for approximately $150.00 where an initial building was placed on the property valued around $350.00. A more permanent building was erected later with construction costing $800.00. The exterior of the church was made from cut stones. Reverend Center pastored for five years, during which time he served as one of the first moderators of the Atlanta Baptist Association with Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, maternal grandfather of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., serving as his assistant. The Antioch Missionary Society was also organized under his leadership. Under the leadership of Reverend Center, Reverend D.K. Williams, with the assistance of a few of Antioch's members and Pastor Center's blessings, established the first mission out of Antioch in 1894. This mission was named Union Baptist Church. Its building construction was completed before that of Antioch. Reverend Center died before the completion of the interior of the church, but left a memorable landmark and spiritual memories for future generations.
Reverend Adam Daniel Williams was asked to complete the unexpired term of Reverend Center after his death. Six months later Reverend Williams was called to serve as Pastor of Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church. During his five-year administration, Reverend Adam Daniel Williams completed the auditorium of the church and purchased 350 chairs.
Reverend Adam Daniel Williams resigned in 1918, and Reverend Manuel Glenn was called to Antioch and served as pastor from 1918 - 1924. Reverend Adam Daniel Williams returned in 1924 to serve as pastor for one year.
In 1925, Reverend Thomas Dorsey was called to pastor Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church. For 18 years, Reverend Dorsey preached the gospel. People came from near and far to hear his powerful, dynamic preaching. A council of elders was established by Reverend Dorsey, which included several prominent black ministers.
When Reverend A.G. Davis came in 1945 to serve Antioch, he came with a plan for physical improvements. Under his leadership, the first unit of kitchen space was completed; running water was secured from the city; restrooms were installed and a fund was started to purchase church pews.
In 1949, under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Oscar L. Jackson, a junior church was organized along with the O. L. Jackson Chorus and Women's Chorus; a heating system was installed and the church purchased pews and pulpit furniture.
In 1953, Reverend A. G. Belcher was called to Pastor. During his tenure, the Pastor's Aide, Willing Workers and Social Clubs were organized. There were four Sunday School classrooms built; water coolers purchased; choirs reorganized; gas heaters installed; people called into the ministry; deacons ordained and the first woman in the church called into the ministry. She later moved her membership to the St. James Holiness Church.
In 1958, Reverend Sims McIver was called to Pastor. He came with a heart full of love and a determination to do God's will. Under his leadership, new windows and doors were added at a cost of $2,121.80; the Pastor's study was redecorated; carpet and runners were installed in the church along with microphones and central gas heat. The McIver Youth choir was organized and Communion set to administer to the sick and shut-in. An organ was also purchased and other renovations were done. Many deacons were ordained under the leadership of Reverend McIver. In August of 1968, the Lithonia Federal Credit Union was organized at the Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church - some of the charter members included, Deacon Walter Guthrie, and Sister Erma Mabry. Sister Ola B. Jackson Thomas wrote the first church history in 1969.
In 1978, Reverend Robert Truman Glass was called to serve as Pastor. Numerous changes began to take place with emphasis on reorganization in conjunction with greater spiritual awareness. The first Trustee Board was established in 1981, which consisted of present active members like Deacons Harper Hall, Sr., Effers (E.C.) Guthrie, Walter Guthrie, John Hunter, Thomas Shumake (deceased) and Barry Reynolds. Accomplishments such as the purchase of a van, a sound system, an organ, a copier, a grand piano, a chandelier, padded pews, a microwave oven, a paved parking lot and a street name change from Baptist Alley Drive to Albert Way were executed under Reverend Glass's leadership. In 1984, the Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church purchased property for $15K from Coy Lackey. On June 20, 1985, the Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church was incorporated. The Antioch Baptist Church/Community Development Association made additional property purchases of 2532 Albert Way and 6893 Magnolia Street, in 1986 and 1988, respectively. The first written Church Constitution was established in 1982 with the objective to inform the congregation about the policies, the purpose and the doctrine of Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church. Other ministries established included the Education Ministry; the Youth Ministry, the Music Ministry, and the Mission Ministry. Within the Mission Ministry, things such as a Radio Broadcast where messages were aired every day at 4:00 P.M. on WXLL, tapes were sent to home bound members, a van ministry to transport those in need and local visits to nursing homes, prisons, alcohol centers, and children's homes were implemented. There were also trips made to South Georgia doing mission work. Between 1978 and 1993, approximately 412 members were added to the congregation with a total church enrollment of 706. Continued financial blessings made it possible for the purchase of a computer, another van and new carpet in the sanctuary. On September 10, 1994, Pastor R. E. Glass resigned as pastor of Antioch Baptist Church. Seventy members of Antioch went with him and they organized what is no known as the Covenant of Faith Full Gospel Ministries Baptist Church.
The pulpit remained vacant from September 10, 1994 until March 5, 1995. During this time, the sons and daughters of Antioch carried on in an exemplary manner until another pastor was called. On February 11, 1995, Reverend James C. Ward was called by God to pastor the Antioch Baptist Church. Pastor Ward delivered his first sermon as pastor on March 5, 1995. At this time, church enrollment was approximately 550 members with church attendance around 150-200 members. Under the leadership of Pastor Ward, membership and attendance grew rapidly. A membership council was established in order to make sure new members felt at home. From 1995-1996, there were 51 who came for Baptism; 74 came with Christian experience; one minister was ordained; one member was restored; six babies were dedicated; two members joined under Watch Care; two members were called into the ministry and there was one wedding. Pastor Ward spent the first year or so preaching the Word and organizing the church and its services. A Marketing Ministry - now Mass Communication - was organized and established in 1995 to make the Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church more visible in the Dekalb County and Metro Atlanta areas. The ministry was headed by Minister Winfrey Sullivan, who was also called into the ministry under the leadership of Pastor Ward. Minister Sullivan also headed a committee with a new slogan, "Directions for a New Walk,'' was unveiled on December 3, 1995. A more powerful sound system was installed with monitors in the pulpit and the building was rewired to accommodate the new system during the first year of Pastor Ward's tenure. Membership Care, through the Deacon Board in the spring of 1997, was implemented under the leadership of Pastor Ward, stressing the idea that members are our "customers" and that we must express love and care for all. The Education Ministry under the leadership of Minister Lillie Bailey, established our first official Summer Camp for Antioch-Lithonia in the summer of 1997. Wednesday night Tutorial sessions and Financial seminars were established in 1997 by the Age Specific & Development Ministry. In June of 1997, Antioch-Lithonia purchased a B-3 organ, with the congregation contributing $5K towards the cost. A Dance Ministry was also established in June to perform on 5th Sundays. Minister Douglas Ealey provided and taught a certified seminary class at Antioch-Lithonia for our ministers during the summer of 1997. In November of 1997, a Human Resources committee was established to oversee the needs of the Church employees. Worship Support was also added as an additional ministry. A video ministry (large screen TV) was added in the lower level for overflow worshippers in the winter of 1997. The audio ministry separated from Worship ministry in 1997 to improve specialization in both areas and was renamed the Media Ministry. In December 1997, Evangelist Connie Flint, of WAOK 1380 A.M. radio station, served as Mistress of Ceremonies for our annual Christmas program. During this season, members of the Worship and Outreach Ministries contributed approximately $2K and Angel Tree gifts for local families and children in need. The church members received fruit baskets distributed by the Deacons and Deaconesses. In January 1998, being led by God, Pastor Ward began to boldly teach the duty and benefits of tithing. We were blessed to have internationally acclaimed speakers such as Curtis Aikens, host and director of FOOD NETWORK, a nationally syndicated Culinary TV show to speak in January 1998. Pastor Ward was instrumental in conducting marital, spiritual and career/leadership counseling for members while maintaining a full-time job until December 1998 when he retired from AT&T. Pastor Ward taught Wednesday night Bible class and with its popularity and the member's thirst for the Word of God, an additional Noon Bible class was added in November of 1999. Attendance for both grew tremendously. The year 1999 was an even more exceptional year. Under the leadership of Pastor Ward, the church roll increased to over 1,200 active members. During 1999 the accomplishments consisted of church audits for the past three years, purchase of a new van, upgrading the current and purchasing additional computers for use in operating the church, installation of a local area network conducting an inventory of all church property, upgrading the church sound system, selling the property at 6893 Magnolia Street, establishing an employee handbook, establishing a computer lab, constructing a walkway for handicap accessibility, constructing steps for access from the lower area of the church grounds, installation of new flooring for the kitchen, replacement of the refrigerator compressor, purchasing new furniture for the Pastor's office, purchasing new drums for the Music Ministry, providing support (feeding before all home games) for Lithonia High School and the implementation of Boys & Girls Scouting programs.
The year 2000 was very challenging and very fruitful. We encountered several set backs, such as the discovery of extensive termite damage in our sanctuary. However, the many accomplishments overshadow the few negative incidents. The victories are many: spiritual warfare was taught; Vacation Bible School was extended to two weeks; we partnered with Emory University to sponsor a health fair; we gained complete access to the Head Start Center; the Jewels of Christ produced a CD and video; we sponsored several clothing "give-aways" with the support of Marshall's Department Stores; we expanded to three Sunday worship services; we began to provide lunch after the noon Bible class, we improved our in-house printing process; we resurrected the newsletter, produced professional-quality brochures; the Pastor and First Lady journeyed to the Holy Land; we began several health support groups; improved our exposure with several articles and ads in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other print media publications, and the financial position was greatly enhanced by the teaching of church support through tithes and offering.
With the attention to the obvious, and with the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, Pastor informed the congregation that it was time for the congregation to relocate to a larger facility. The church was landlocked and could not expand sufficiently at the existing location to accommodate present ministries and membership.
On September 25, 2000 the first land acquisition committee meeting was held. Members present were Deacons Charles Johnson, Henry Hall Sr., Charles Jones, Derek Slaughter, E. C. Guthrie, Norris Johnson (deceased), and John Hunter; and Brothers John Delk, and Charles Montgomery. Owners of property at 2152 and 2178 Rock Chapel Road (Anderson & Smith) announced that they were selling their properties. After raising over $250,000.00 in a span of only two months and securing a special land use permit, the transaction to purchase the land was completed at 6:02 P.M. on Monday, March 19, 2001. Antioch was now the steward of 23.05 acres of prime property. A sign was erected on the property declaring it the future home of Antioch-Lithonia and a ceremonial ground breaking was held on June 3, 2001. This event was attended by city and county officials. Church members who attended included Mother Ruth Gill (deceased), Deaconess Cleo Leslie (deceased) and Deaconess Pinkie Smith.
On September 18, 2001 Pastor Ward met with Malcolm Fowler of Kilpatrick and Associates to develop a business plan to secure the funding for the construction project. On January 9, 2003, a contract was signed with Sparks & Grizzard to begin construction.
After many challenges and several delays, including the need to secure a second special land use permit and the need to remove subsurface rock formations, Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church entered into its new state-of-the-art facility on October 1, 2004. The church was used as a poling precinct for the general election on November 2, 2004. The official dedication was on November 7, 2004. The new facility has allowed Antioch-Lithonia to minister even more effectively and to follow the tradition of our fore parents as we proceed in excellence.
In July 2010 we ordained 20 new Deacons and Deaconesses. With God's help, we shall continue to: Bridge The Past; Bless The Present; and Birth The Future.