It is with joy that the delegates to the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Southeast Conference voted unanimously to welcome Forgiving Heart Church as our newest congregation!
Forgiving Heart United Church of Christ has been a part of the community in Columbus, GA since 1988. They were formerly known as Family of God MCC, and in June of 2003 changed their name to to Forgiving Heart Church. They believe that this name stands for what they are about: a group of loving individuals from both sides of the Chattahoochee River.
As they write, “We are men and women of various ages and interests and talents. We have a common concern to see that people of all walks of life come to know that God loves them. We also have a desire to promote social justice issues. We have continually worked with AIDS organizations at various times of the year to provide needed items for people who are infected or affected by AIDS or HIV. We have adopted families in need at Christmas so the children could have toys and the family could eat a holiday feast as well as provide extra food to last beyond the holidays. We consider all the members of our church as ministers. In the New Testament church all the members carry the news about the love.”
The pastor is Rev. Emily A. Bel, who came to Forgiving Heart from Atlanta, Georgia, where she spent nine years as an associate pastor, working closely with the late Rev. Reid Christensen. Before working with Rev. Christensen, Emily trained under Rev. Alice Jones in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition, she has worked with small groups in McAlester, Oklahoma, Lafayette, Louisiana and Macon, Georgia. Rev. Bel has been working with Forgiving Heart Church since September, 1995. At that time she served as the liaison between the church and the district. A year later, she became the interim pastor. In the beginning, Rev. Bel commuted from Atlanta every other week. In 1998, she relocated to Columbus and on February 17, 1998, she became the permanent pastor.
As pastor, she works closely with the congregation’s board of directors and members to equip God’s people to bring God’s love to others. Since her arrival in Columbus, she has also served in many community organizations, including president of the Chattahoochee Valley PFLAG and was a member of the Columbus Pride Committee for several years. She was instrumental in the founding of the Community Outreach Program, a non-profit social service agency, serving HIV positive individuals and their families.
Learn more on their website: www.forgivingheartchurch.com