By Johnny Jackson
Organizers of the 36th Anniversary Celebration of the Rev. E.W. Lee are hoping to inspire young people.
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham is scheduled to speak at Shiloh Baptist Church in McDonough, Sunday.
State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), a 17-year member and deacon at Shiloh Baptist, invited Benham to deliver a message during the church's morning worship services at 11 a.m.
Jones said he believes Benham offers the right mix of leadership and service to commemorate Lee's leadership and service to the 140-year-old church, and the community.
"The objective, first of all, is to celebrate our pastor's 36th anniversary at the church," Jones said. "I love my pastor. I've seen him grow spiritually. He is my spiritual leader."
Jones hopes members will be moved by Benham's message.
"When Justice Benham speaks, he lectures you as well, and talks about the importance of parents being involved in their children's lives," Jones said. "He also talks about responsibility and the law. He's a strong, strong Christian, and I'm sure he'll talk about some of the successes in his life."
Lee said he hopes the message will reach the church's youth.
"I wanted my youth to interface with Justice Robert Benham," Lee said. "The heart of our ministry, really, is the development of our youth to broaden their horizons and to create networks in their lives, so that they can experience life beyond Shiloh Baptist, beyond McDonough, beyond Henry County, and beyond Georgia."
Lee, now 64, said he began his current journey in leadership as a youth. He joined Shiloh Baptist as a 7-year-old, and grew up taking part in its various ministries. In 1974, at the age of 28, he replaced Pastor R.H. Miller as head of the church.
"This is the only church I've ever pastored," he said. "It's been a tremendous change over the years. The tremendous growth in the county alone has given us an opportunity to expand ministries and do things we could not have dreamed of doing."
Lee said engaging the youth has been a staple ministry for the church, alongside its mission to build and maintain community relationships.
One such relationship, he added, will be made evident during Shiloh Baptist's services at 8 a.m., on Sunday.
Lee said the congregation of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Locust Grove will join members of Shiloh Baptist for a combined praise and worship service. Bethlehem Baptist's pastor, the Rev. Lionel D. Wilson, will deliver the service's message.
"The Bethlehem Church has always been a part of my anniversary celebration," Lee said. "We are a community church, and I try to be a community pastor."
Shiloh Baptist Church is located in downtown McDonough, at 262 Macon Street.
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