In 1974, a small group of believers desired to start an independent Baptist church in Barrow County. The original group consisted of 9 members and was assisted in their efforts by Buford Highway Baptist Church in Doraville, Georgia. Dr. Harold Kilpatrick, senior pastor at Buford Highway, sent his assistant pastor to preach to this group until a permanent pastor could be found. The church began its meetings in Watson Hall in Winder during November 1974.
One of the founding members, Bill Segars, donated five acres of land on the corner of Georgia Highway 82 and Pleasant Hill Church Road located between the cities of Winder and Statham. A former missionary to the island of Trinidad from Buford Highway Baptist Church, Billy Driskell, began to preach and lead the services of Hope Baptist Church in May of 1975. He was eventually called as the first pastor of Hope Baptist Church. On September 1, 1975, the Driskells moved to Winder and lived in a trailer on the church property donated by Bill Segars.
Work began soon thereafter on constructing an auditorium on the new church property. In March 1976, Hope Baptist Church officially moved into its first building on its own land. The church became involved immediately in supporting missionaries financially, a local bus ministry was started, and a daily radio program preaching the gospel was conducted by the pastor for over three years. During Pastor Driskell’s ministry, all of the current buildings (with the exception of the double-wide unit) were built: church auditorium, cafeteria, gymnasium, offices, & elementary and high school classroom wings.
In August 1980, Winder-Barrow Christian School was begun as a ministry of the church adding one grade each year up to the seventh grade. In 1986, the name of the school was changed to Hope Christian Academy and grades 8 – 12 were added to complete the high school. Hope Christian Academy closed in June 2013 after 33 years of fruitful ministry in our community.
Pastors of Hope Baptist Church:
Billy Driskell 1975-1985
Ron Tankersley 1985-1990
Jerry Knight 1991-1992
James Williams 1992-2009
Steven Smallwood 2010-present