THE STORY OF ST. MARGARET'S
An amazing lay spirit has lifted and led this congregation since its beginning as an “unorganized mission” in 1892. For 60 years, it functioned as the smallest religious organization in Carrollton, holding services in its tiny chapel on White Street and West Avenue. After a sudden growth spurt in the 1950s, the current Williamsburg style church was built on Newnan Street. The original West Avenue chapel was later donated to the University of West Georgia, where it still stands today, dedicated in 1964 to late President John F. Kennedy.
The significance of being named for the 11th century Scottish Queen Margaret is not lost on its members today. St. Margaret always fed the poor at her table, serving them first. She also restored the 500 year old monastery on the Scottish Isle of Iona. The church has modeled itself on Queen Margaret’s charity. To symbolize the connection, the Rev. Dewey Gable in 1953 arranged for a small stone from the Ionian ruins to be placed in the altar at St. Margaret’s.
By the late sixties, St. Margaret’s attained “Full Parish Status” and built a parish hall in 1970. St. Margaret’s Day became an annual celebration on November 17, 1970. The arrival of Rev. John Boucher marked a revived spirit of unity in the church. Through strengthening the worship fellowship, he left a healthy church for the Rev. Jim Callahan in 1982. This popular priest inspired the parish with his dramatic sermons, done after long study and with no notes. He made his flock laugh with him, at the “zaniness and wonder of life.”
Major new accomplishments under the leadership of Rev. Callahan included the Soup Kitchen —started with the Lutheran and Carrollton Presbyterian Churches, and now serving thousands of meals each month—and St. Margaret's Outreach, headed with humor and energy by Barry Staples. Barry started the Paper Pantry for needy new mothers and Homework Helper for kids in public housing who needed help in school work. These programs and many others are still important to the St. Margaret's Community Outreach program today.
St. Margaret's Church Newnan St.
When Rev. Callahan retired in 2000, the congregation searched for over a year for a replacement. The search committee found warm, dynamic Rev. Hazel Glover as the successor on May 1, 2002. Under her leadership, the grounds and buildings were beautifully renovated and unified for better flow. With the arrival of Laura Lenaeus as youth director, the young people’s programs blossomed. Likewise, Catherine Gordon’s dynamic leadership of St. Margaret's Community Outreach, after Barry’s death in 2005, assured the church's position as being “Christ’s Body” in the community, where the “least of these” can be served.
In an effort to bring its services to more people, St. Margaret's Community Outreach was instrumental in establishing the Circles of West Georgia, an innovative, community-driven attempt to address the problems of poverty in our area. Circles’ mission is to inspire and equip families and communities to thrive and end poverty. Circles of West Georgia is part of a network that
Hazel & the Kids
includes 75 plus communities in 23 states and parts of Canada. St. Margaret's Community Outreach will continue to conduct its program locally and be a feeder organization to screen and refer needy clients to Circles.
In 2012, St. Margaret's razed the old Gable House which housed church offices and Outreach meeting and service rooms. In its place the church built the two-story James E. Callahan Center to provide new offices and a much expanded and efficient workplace for the church clergy, staff and Outreach staff and clients. In addition, the Callahan Center houses a newly-expanded nursery and a beautiful children’s chapel, where St. Margaret's youngest members gather on Sunday mornings to hear a liturgy tailored especially for them.
In 2015, the church was given the Bass House as a gift by the Roush family and Laura Richards. This large residential property fronts on Cedar Street and backs up to the church. Presently, the Bass House serves as the housing quarters for our interim rector. In April 2017, a playground was installed in the backyard of the Bass House for the children and youth of our church. Although final plans for the Bass House use have not been decided, it will become a rich part of St. Margaret's future history and growth. The Bass House is currently being used as the home of our interim rector.
St Margaret's saw a year of transition and new beginnings in 2016. The 2015 year ended with Catherine Gordon’s decision to retire from her long tenure as the head of St. Margaret’s Community Outreach. The ministry continues under the able leadership of Meghan Bennett. In May, we learned that our youth director, Laura Lenaeus, would step down at the end of July
Our New Playground
and we celebrated her long, successful ministry with our young people. We were blessed to find Jessica McLaren to serve as youth director as we looked to the future of the youth and children's Christian Formation programs.
Our greatest challenge of 2016 came in August when Hazel announced that she would be leaving St. Margaret's at the end of September. It is always difficult to have a beloved rector leave, but we moved into the transition period with confidence that God would support and guide us. Our first blessing was finding an interim rector within a month: Father Bruce Laird came to us on November 1 and will lead us spiritually until our permanent rector is called.