This anniversary will mark the congregation’s first decade in its new church building at 563 Old Bremen Rd., which opened on Dec. 29, 2002.
The church’s “2012 Decade of Dedication Celebration” will feature a Dec. 8 performance by James Bignon, a Grammy and Stellar nomination national recording artist and choir leader. He will be joined by The Carroll County Mass Choir, a group he will teach in a gospel music workshop at the church from Dec. 6 to 8.
Activities will begin on Dec. 8 with a 6 p.m. reception at the church, followed by Bignon’s 7 p.m. performance.
“We’re inviting people from all around the community and from all churches to come join us for this special celebration,” said Fred O’Neal, church deacon and chairman of the celebration committee.
O’Neal said invitations have been sent out to more than 75 different churches, inviting them to send choir members to train in Bignon’s workshop and sing with him in the Dec. 8 performance.
The gospel music workship costs $20 for each participant and will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6 through 8. Limited space is available. Topics covered will include rehearsal etiquette, choir decorum, vocal warmups, performance skills, diction and improvisation, harmony and vocal coordination, solo and lead performance and using the voice as an instrument. Registration information is available by calling 770-328-6420.
Bignon was born an only child in Savannah, Ga., and was raised in New York City. He started singing in church at age 5 and was writing his own songs by age 11. He learned to play the piano by watching his parents and later took lessons and theory courses.
At an early age, he sang his first solo in the historic St. John Baptist Church in Savannah, where his mother was pianist. While attending Lucy Laney High School in Augusta, Ga., he formed the school’s first gospel group.
Bignon toured with singer Dorothy Norwood before joining the Rev. Milton Biggham in 1983 to lead the Georgia Mass Choir. His 10-member choir was featured in Michael Flatley’s “Riverdance,” introducing a secular audience to his brand of gospel music. He continues to perform and record Rhythm and Blues flavored gospel.
Bignon’s 1991 recording with the Deliverance Mass Choir, “How Excellent is Thy Name,” made the gospel charts, followed by another chart recording in 1992, “Use Me.”
He had a 2000 album and video titled “Miracle,” and in 2002 released “God is Great,” recorded live in Sioux City, Iowa, which remained on the Billboard Gospel Chart for 26 consecutive weeks.
First Baptist Church of Carrollton has a long history, going back to the post-Civil War days when its congregation was part of the First Baptist Church on Dixie Street.
“In a conference of the white First Baptist Church on Sept. 13, 1873, upon request, all black members were granted letters of dismissal to organize their own church,” O’Neal said.
The first church building was on Bankhead Highway, just beyond the intersection of what is now Newnan Street and Bankhead. The church later moved to 148 Church St., where it remained for many years.
“It was a small facility, and we needed a larger space,” said O’Neal. “We needed room to grow the church.”
He said the search for a new location began in 1999, and with the help of many community fund raising projects, the church bought the property on Old Bremen Road and held a groundbreaking on March 24, 2002.
“It’s one of the largest church facilities in the county and is used for a lot of community events,” he said. “We hold our ecumenical Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony there each year on the Sunday before the national holiday.”
O’Neal said the church is also popular, especially in the African-American community, for weddings, funerals and other ceremonies. It also hosts a soup kitchen and a number of conferences and other programs. Church ministries include marriage, men’s, music, Praise Dance and Women of Faith.
He said the church currently has about 600 members, with about 250 active.
Services include 9:15 a.m. Sunday school and a 10:30 a.m. worship service and a 10:30 a.m. children’s service. Bible study is held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The Rev. Bradley Bell has been pastor since 1992. The church’s website is www.fbc-carrollton.org.