The inspiration for an Episcopal church in Harris County came through a group of Episcopalians who lived in Harris County and attended Trinity Episcopal Church in the neighboring city Columbus. After numerous conversations with the Reverend Tom Jones of Trinity and under his leadership, we held a “Fellowship Picnic” at Callaway Gardens in August, 1998. Fifty people were in attendance.
We followed this meeting with a Sunday afternoon worship services and fellowship at the Harris County Library in Hamilton, the County seat of Harris. In December, 1998, Father Tom recommended to the Right Reverend Frank K. Allen, Bishop of the Atlanta Diocese, that a priest on the Trinity staff, the Reverend Beverley McEachern, be appointed Priest-in-Charge with the responsibility of leading this group of people to become a thriving congregation of the Episcopal Church.
On June 8, 1999 the Reverend Rick Callaway, a member of Bishop Allen’s Atlanta Diocesan staff met with the Rev. Beverley and members of the Harris County group to begin the process of organizing a church. Soon the meeting place moved from the Library to Sunday afternoons in the Hamilton Baptist Church. As attendance increased two needs became apparent: we needed a place to worship on Sunday morning and a name that reflected our denomination. We reached a rental agreement with the Pine Mountain Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church for the use of their facility for Sunday worship and other activities. The membership selected, and the Diocese approved, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church as the name of our dedicated congregation.
The need for a building of its own was obvious if the next phase of planting a church was to flourish. On September 10, 1999 the Callaway Pine Mountain Benevolent Foundation conveyed five acres of land to us, and we purchased three adjoining acres from the Cason J. Callaway Foundation. This provided a beautiful eight-acre site strategically located on Mobley Road, just west of Hamilton, for a new church. St. Nicholas was ready for the new millennium.
On February 20, 2000, Bishop Frank K. Allen proclaimed St. Nicholas a “Worshipping Community” and appointed Rev. Beverley as Vicar. St. Nicholas continued to thrive, constructing the current building in 2003, which is a multi-purpose space for worship, Christian education, and fellowship events.
Sadly, tragedy struck our fledgling community, as our beloved rector Beverly was diagnosed with cancer and after a hard-fought battle, died May 30, 2007. Despite this difficult tragedy, God provided for us and sent Father Tom back to us as our interim rector, as well as a strong group of lay leaders in our Vestry. After a lengthy period of processing Beverley’s death through the ministry of the Pastoral Institute in Columbus, we developed a new vision for our future, and developed a parish profile to begin our search for our next rector.
In November 2008, we called the Reverend Jeff Jackson to be our second rector. Together with the Holy Spirit to guide us, we are moving forward with new hope, new vision, and new leadership. We have walked through good times and difficult times, and God has been with us every step of the way!