Dunwoody Baptist Church has a rich and wonderful history. God has always had His hand in and around this place. In 1958, a young Georgia Tech architectural student named Andrew L. Smith was called to fill the vacant pulpit of the 72-year-old First Baptist Church of Dunwoody. The church was located across from Dunwoody Village on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. Over the next few years, FBC Dunwoody experienced new life with the construction of I-285. The interstate brought with it prime spots for development.
As the church and the surrounding area grew, it was questioned if FBC Dunwoody was properly equipped to handle the growth. Wieuca Road Baptist Church, led by Dr. J.T. Ford, responded to a request from FBC Dunwoody for assistance and advice on how to meet the growing needs of the bustling area. It was decided that the ministry needed to grow. In January 1961, a contract was negotiated for 18.75 acres at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Mt. Vernon Road for a total price of $46,000. Dunwoody Chapel came into being on June 14, 1961 and was led by Interim Pastor Dr. Solomon F. Dowis, a dedicated veteran minister.
Dr. R. Denard Spear, Jr. began his nine-year ministry in September 1963. With 290 members moving to the building at the new location, the chapel was constituted as Dunwoody Baptist Church on March 15, 1964. Rev. Spear’s ministry saw many changes at DBC: the church grew from 290 members to more than 1,050, the facilities more than doubled in size, and an athletic field and a kindergarten were added. Also, the Missions Ministry became a priority with 20% of undesignated gifts going directly to missions (currently 17%). Rev. Spear resigned in the fall of 1972 to further his theological studies.
In May of 1973, Dr. James S. Chavis, Jr. began his ministry as DBC’s Senior Pastor. Under his leadership, the church assembled a capable staff, strengthened its evangelistic outreach, and began a time of rapid growth. A new Family Life Center was built, as was a beautiful sanctuary with a seating capacity of 900. Later building programs included a music building, a children’s building, and the Cecil B. Day Wellness Center. Continuing its emphasis on missions, DBC established four new churches: North River Baptist Church, Peachtree Corners Baptist Church, Alabama Road Baptist Church, and Jamerson Road Baptist Church.
Dr. Richard Harris became the Interim Pastor in 1987 alongside Assistant Rev. Rick Fisher.
Dr. Daniel Vestal began his ministry as Senior Pastor in October of 1988. Under Dr. Vestal’s leadership, DBC engaged in a long-range planning and evangelistic outreach program using the Sunday school program as the avenue for church growth. Dr. Vestal promoted public worship, a commitment to world missions, and ministering to the community. His gifts as a strong biblical preacher and compassionate pastor, and his mission-minded leadership provided a solid foundation for church growth. In 1991 Dr. Vestal resigned to accept the pastorate of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Jim Johnson became Senior Pastor in June of 1992. During his nine and a half years at DBC, Dr. Johnson brought about significant change. He introduced a contemporary worship service and he implemented a Discovering DBC Class designed with the “seeker” in mind. Dr. Johnson also developed an effective small group ministry and spearheaded a Capital Stewardship Campaign that led to the building of a new chapel
and children’s area. In January 2002, Dr. Johnson began a new church, Preston Trail Community Church, in
Dr. Allen Jackson, a former DBC Minister with Students, became the Interim Pastor in 2002. Dr. Jackson, a professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, commuted each weekend for 20 months to lead DBC in worship and study.
Dr. Mack Hannah, formerly Vice President of Spiritual Development at Belmont University and Pastor of Harpeth Heights Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, became Senior Pastor in November 2003. Mack was a highly relational and conciliatory pastor of the people. His heart was for the lost in our community and his focus was on discipleship and outreach. Under Mack’s leadership, such programs as Celebrate Recovery and a foster care and adoption ministry were formed at DBC. In the spring of 2006, Mack led DBC through a successful Capital Stewardship Campaign that raised over $4.5 million for church improvements. On October 19, 2014, Mack offered his resignation as Senior Pastor. His last Sunday as Senior Pastor was January 11, 2015.
Dr. Allen Jackson returned as Interim Senior Pastor to assist the congregation in the search for a new, permanent Senior Pastor. On September 6, 2015, the Senior Pastor Search Team recommended to the congregation that Allen Jackson become the next Senior Pastor of DBC. On Sunday, September 20, 2015, Allen was officially called as Dunwoody Baptist Church’s 6th Senior Pastor. We rejoice in this new beginning, and are focused on doing the next right thing. To God be the Glory for the things He has done.
If you are interested in hearing more about Allen and Judi’s thoughts on this new chapter in the life of DBC, make sure to listen to episode 12 of The DBC Podcast. Allen and Judy answer questions about the emotional whirlwind of Sunday’s worship service and vote, the anticipation of ministering at DBC, their hopes for our congregation and what they believe the life and work of a pastor is all about.