MCDONOUGH—Dr. Edward W. Lee this month celebrated his 40th anniversary as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church with a weekend filled with events, including a parade on the downtown square and two banquets that were held in his honor.
It was a fitting celebration commemorating the milestone of a man who has been shepherding the same ministry where he grew up worshipping as a child.
“Shiloh has been a family affair for me. I saw many of the mothers in my church as my mother when I was growing up. I had a group of aunties in the church and friends who were like brothers and sisters to me,” said Dr. Lee. “All of these people wrapped their arms around me and encouraged me. I was a young man who they wanted to see succeed.”
A Henry County resident for most of his life, Dr. Lee, 68, said the 145-year-old Shiloh is where his mother’s family has worshipped for many generations. He was licensed to preach at Shiloh when he was just 16 years old.
In pastoring and leading God’s people, Dr. Lee said he followed in the footsteps of his father.
“Three generations of my family have been pastors: my father, Rufus Allen Lee, Sr., who was an AME pastor who traveled to churches in South Georgia, myself, and my son, Eric W. Lee, who is pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, ” said Dr. Lee, adding that he and his father shared the same alma mater. Both graduated from Atlanta’s Morris Brown College.
Dr. Lee said his corporate job as a YMCA executive helped prepared him for ministry, equipping him with the skills he needed as a pastor to work with people, deal with finances and plan.
Dr. Lee said he has seen Shiloh grow not only in numbers but expand from a modest edifice to one that encompasses 30,000 square feet. The former sanctuary is now where Children’s Church is held on Sundays.
“We built the building we’re in now in 2005/06 to accommodate the growth that was happening in Henry County in the 1990s,” said Dr. Lee, who said the church has about 2,200 members. “At that time, Henry was one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation.”
Dr. Lee said as hundreds found their way to Shiloh, the church’s ministries blossomed to include some two-dozen ministries. Generations of families, Dr. Lee said, continue to worship at Shiloh.
“One of the strengths of our church has been that it is a multigenerational church. Our focus is the family, couples and youths. On Sunday mornings, you’ll find a blend of talents participating in our worship service,” said Dr. Lee.
Dr. Lee said the church is preparing to grow again to serving a growing community. In May, Shiloh will break ground on a new family life center that will serve the community by providing a number of services.
“We’re planning for an after-school childcare program, senior programs and fitness programs. There will be a gymnasium and meeting rooms for the community,” said Dr. Lee. “Our new Family Life Center will complete our campus. It’s a facility that is needed not only by our congregation, but by the community at large and we want to be there to serve.”