Over the course of a three year period, God had placed a burden on the heart of New Salem Baptist Church, Griffin, Georgia, for evangelism in what is known as the Anne Street/Meriwether area. Through the vision God gave to Ed Shepard, a member of New Salem, he initiated a city-wide Vacation Bible School called Kid’s Explosion in that area. Through Kid’s Explosion, a void was identified where during a three year period, the number of children who accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior had grown to over 600, but there was not a Southern Baptist Church in the immediate area to plug them in to. New Salem made an unprecedented decision to seek God’s direction to plant an African-American church to fill the void that had been identified.
Through the Flint River Baptist Association New Salem’s desire was brought to the attention of Rev. Nathaniel Lee, Senior Pastor of Zion Baptist Church, Hampton. He was asked if he knew of a minister who would be able and interested in planting a church in the inner city of Griffin. He said that he did know such a man if God would release him. Rev. Grady L. Caldwell, Assistant Pastor of Zion Baptist, was asked to consider it. After seeking God, Rev. Grady and Kathleen Caldwell agreed to be used by God for His work in the Griffin area by planting this church. God led them to Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Thy Faithfulness.” As a result, God gave them the name, New Mercy Baptist Church. Through their spiritual journey, God had prepared Pastor Grady and First Lady Kathleen Caldwell for such a time as this.
The process began by New Salem, the mother church, seeking assistance from the Georgia Baptist Convention in May, 2007. A team completed Basic Training in July, incorporated in August, and began development of a core group through Bible Study in September, 2007 at the home of John and Pat Perdew at 928 Poplar Street, Griffin. There were 12 people in attendance at that first historic Bible Study. God has done great things through small beginnings and New Mercy Baptist Church is no exception.
God’s hand has been prevalent through the entire process from finding a location to developing partners for the ministry. The City of Griffin owned the building that was identified at 742 Pimento Avenue. It was the former McIntosh Trail Head Start building; Police Youth Community Center; and originally the Cora Nimmos Elementary School. It had been vacant for over five years and was in need of a major overhaul.
The City of Griffin partnered with us by giving us a five-year lease at $1.00 per year with the understanding that we would be responsible for all repairs, which were considerable. Through the sovereign move of God New Mercy Baptist Church celebrated its Dedication Service May 18th, and launched our first regular service June 8t,h, 2008. For that, New Mercy Baptist Church is eternally grateful. The citizens of Griffin overwhelmingly passed a referendum for New Mercy to purchase the building in 2011. Through good stewardship, help from the Georgia Baptist Convention and many individuals, we were able to purchase the building without incurring any debt in 2011.
Being out of space to service the community with one building, through the generosity of Plott Industries we acquired a second building, 730-N Pimento in January, 2012 with a twenty-year lease at $1.00 per year. It had to be totally renovated as well. Through God’s grace we moved into that building debt free on June 8th, 2014.
God provided other major ministry partners for New Mercy from the very beginning:
New Salem Baptist Church, (mother church)
Zion Baptist Church, Hampton
Georgia Baptist Convention
North American Mission Board
Cornerstone Baptist Church, Lithia Springs
Second Baptist Griffin
Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Albany
Flint River Baptist Association
Since then, Union Baptist, First Baptist Griffin, Carver Road Baptist, Rising Star Missionary Baptist and Oak Hill Baptist have partnered with us as we build the kingdom of God in the inner-city of Griffin. There have been too many individuals to name who have partnered with New Mercy Baptist Church. There have been many Christian businesses that have helped with what God was doing in planting this church. New Mercy’s membership has increased to over 200 active members. Under the
leadership of the founding pastor, Grady Caldwell, many new initiatives, creative projects, and ministries have been implemented.
They include: The Clothing and Food Outreach Ministry, Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Corporate Prayer and Tuesday Night Bible Study; Wednesday Night Men’s Bible Study; Yahweh Truth Young Adult Sunday School; Discipleship Classes; Computer Lab Access for Community, Children/Youth Choir; Adoption of Anne Street School as a “Partner in Education”, and a Kindergarten After-School Tutorial Program; Partnership with Life Song Ministries; continuation of Kid’s Explosion, site for Summer Youth Lunch Program and Computer Lab, and site for participants in the Workforce Development program, Marriage Ministry, Shepherd’s Ministry, Mother’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, licensed for a Day Care Center, Celebrate Recovery Ministry, Compass Financial Ministry and a Girl Scouts ministry as well.
It is an awesome experience to be used of God to help build His kingdom. It is amazing what God can do through small beginnings. New Mercy Baptist Church is no exception. May He continue to be glorified through this work!