Red Oak UMC Stockbridge Celebrates Growth


This is the first in a series of stories from growing congregations around the North Georgia Conference.

By Ansley Brackin

Red Oak UMC in Stockbridge is seeing an increase in youth and child involvement, and in professions of faith.

Church pastor Rev. Jacqui Rose-Tucker says the thriving congregation gives younger people a voice and gives everyone room to be themselves.

Worship is not designed by a sole person or group, but instead is planned using a collection of ideas from children, teens, young adults, parents, and anyone else who would like to be involved.

As the younger generation grows and matures, Rose-Tucker and Red Oak members have made sure to grow alongside them. What was first an increase in children is now an increase in teens and the church is already thinking ahead to pave a way for their involvement when they grow into young adults.

In the past few years, Red Oak has grown from 10 or less children in Sunday services to curating a choir of more than 60 children and youth on Wednesdays. This increase didn’t come from staying secluded from the community.

Rose-Tucker has formed relationships in the local schools. She visits with both staff and students at lunch time and attends school events, including graduations.

She’s made her office space into an area that invites conversation, with food and coffee close by.
“I think my biggest draw is my candy dish,” Rose-Tucker jokes.

It’s easy to view worshipers as a congregation and not as individual people, but Rose-Tucker has found that honoring individuality is what plants the seeds of growth.

“Kids go where they’re wanted,” she says. “They are individual people, and we need to care about their concerns. We care about their quality of life.”

The welcoming spirit has spread to children and teens who readily invite newcomers and welcome visitors. When new parents visit, the congregation is quick to be helpful. Clothing and food drives have drawn those in need.

Rose-Tucker does all she can to make herself accessible to the entire community. She attends town meetings, and has hosted a few at Red Oak. She sits with new people each time and makes herself known to those who are not in church.

“People are hurting, searching, seeking,” says Rose-Tucker, and the people of Red Oak UMC are eager to give their love and support. She thinks that love and support explains the increase in professions of faith.

“People come in one way and leave another,” the pastor says. “Our job is to catch them, not clean them. Only God can do that. We cannot do church the same way we did it 30 years ago,” Rose-Tucker explains. “You can’t expect them to become just like you.”

For other congregations looking to grow, Rose-Tucker has one piece of advice that sums it all up.
 “No one can turn down love.” she says. “It’s just too hard to come by.”