There’s a new church in town, Northridge Church of Thomaston, which states their mission is to reach the unchurched of Upson and surrounding counties. RUSH Ministries Founder Rev. Marc Pritchett, former Assistant Minister of Mountain View Baptist Church, felt God was leading him to establish a new church in the community in an effort to reach those who do not already attend church, so he did some research. After surveying the community, rough estimates showed only 13 percent of Upson County’s population attends a local church on a regular basis. Therefore, he felt beginning Northridge Church of Thomaston was what God was telling him to do.
Pritchett, along with his wife Stephanie and David and Katheryn Maguire, began the church just a few short weeks ago and they are very excited about this new venture in their lives. One thing he wants to make clear however is, it is not his or anyone’s involved with the church, mission to take members from existing places of worship, but to bring in those who do not attend services regularly or have a church home.
“We just want to do what we can to reach those in the community with the message of hope,” said Pritchett. “Sometimes we have to take the church to the people, whether it is through things like a summer feeding program at the Greatest Generation Park or a Sunrise Service at Sprewell Bluff. I just felt like God is calling me to start a church and I want to help this community. I want to see it grow, be vibrant and be something we can be excited about.”
He continued, noting that part of Northridge Church’s plan is to partner with other churches and organizations which are already providing something for the community, so they can expand upon those services instead of duplicating them. One example he gave was helping with Families Feeding Families to provide more meals at Thanksgiving.
“We want to figure out how everyone can work together because I think we all want the same thing,” said Pritchett.
Currently, Northridge Church is renting the Upson-Lee Fine Arts Auditorium from the school system to hold their services on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. On Wednesday evenings they are meeting at American Pie in Thomaston for Bible Study at 7 p.m. They are looking at the possibility of establishing a permanent location at the old Hickory Ridge Golf Course, which is currently owned by Scott Lassiter of Old Course Properties, LLC.
However, prior to that happening, the property will have to be rezoned. A special exception application was submitted to the Upson County Planning Commission for 14 acres of the approximately 337-acre site, including the clubhouse for the purpose of being used for the church. However, Ed Trice, who is representing Mr. Lassiter, asked that hearing be continued until the September 8 planning commission meeting. The commission granted the request and will have final say on the matter at that time.
Mr. Lassiter also petitioned the planning commission to rezone the entire approximately 337-acre site from P-M (Planned Residential) to A-R at this month’s planning commission meeting. The property was previously zoned A-R prior to being designated P-M in 1997 and according to Trice, no development has taken place in the last four to five years. He stated the ordinance says if the P-M zoning is not followed, then it will revert back to the original zoning for the property. The site is surrounded by A-R zoning on three sides, with the only exception being the subdivision lots which will stay zoned P-M. Trice noted of the 37 lots, only five or six were sold and there are only two houses with any occupants.
Michael Pressley, who lives in one of the two houses, told the planning commission he would like to see whatever zoning is needed to be granted to allow for some development or occupancy on the property for safety reasons. He noted the area is pretty much vacant and he would be in favor of anything that would encourage progress in the area.
The Upson County Planning Commission approved the rezoning unanimously and the final say goes to the Upson County Board of Commissioners at their August 12 meeting.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1