The church was founded in 1950, according to Belmont’s senior pastor Jeff Hawkins, after a revival was held in the Belmont Community of Calhoun. Hawkins came to Calhoun in 1999 from a church in Mississippi and has pastored the congregation for the past 11 years.
“Every week I have the ear of 425 people in our community, and I’m speaking to them about the most important thing on Earth, and that is why God put them here,” he said. “That’s one of my greatest joys of being a pastor.”
According to Hawkins, Sunday school and church attendance has been on the rise from the birth of the church, and particularly during the time that he has been the pastor.
The church currently runs at approximately 425 active attendance, said Hawkins, and 330-340 in Sunday School attendance.
“The church has had steady, solid growth for 11 years.”
During his time at Belmont, Hawkins has seen his congregation grow united and mature as a whole.
“The greatest experience is seeing our church not only grow numerically but grow spiritually and mature as a church,” he said.
In the future, Hawkins sees his congregation growing up to 900 to 1,000 members attending Sunday School.
“We are more focused on purposes of God instead of rather than just mere management of an organization. We are trying to be a church that makes a difference not only in our community..,but in the world. We are literally doing that,” he said.
In the next two to three years, Belmont will be undergoing a campus-wide renovation project, according to Hawkins. This facelift will include minor improvements such as wall paint or decoration, while other areas of the building may undergo major changes, he said.
One of the most exciting plans for Belmont, according to Hawkins, is breaking ground on a new 1,100-seat worship center in the next six to eight years.
“God just happened to give me the privilege of pastoring at this time,” he said.
Hawkins wants his church to be known as a place of practicality, where people can come to hear a sermon that relates to their lives, he said. A sermon that “motivates them to make changes in their life and motivates them to make a difference in the world that they live in.”
A heart for ministry
Their message reaches beyond the four walls of their church building, said Hawkins, including a soup kitchen ministry, help for the poor and meeting other particular needs in the community.
“We help a lot of people in the community,” he said.
According to Hawkins, Belmont has given over $2.2 million to missions in last 11 years, and 60 percent of the church’s active members are involved in some kind of ministry.
Being a heavily mission-minded church, Belmont has conducted missions in New York, Canada, Nicaragua, Moldova, Kentucky, Mexico and New Mexico, he said.
Hawkins is also very passionate for missions. Twice a year he spends one week in Moldova and one in Nicaragua training other pastors, he said.
To aid in their missions ministry, Belmont also hosts a yearly missions day to emphasize the goal of the church in the mission field, Hawkins said.
“We want to keep reaching out, and not just staying in,” he said.
Other Belmont ministries include children and youth ministries, a widows ministry, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) ministry, Christian Sportsmens ministry, Awana ministry and an active senior adult ministry, according to Hawkins.
In addition to local and global missions, Belmont hosts quarterly “Super Sundays”, according to Hawkins, where a powerful speaker comes in for a change of pace with the congregation.
“We try to bring in an extremely effective communicator every three months,” he said. “...It’s like a booster shot in the arm.”
In the next 10 years, Hawkins sees Belmont having an even bigger impact on the community and the world.
“I see us making a greater difference in the area of missions,” he said. “That we really want to be a lighthouse and a place of blessing in our community.”
The history of Belmont
During the revival in 1950, attendants showed great interest in opening a Baptist church in Belmont, according to Belmont’s website. After dedication and planning, particularly by Rev. Henry Holland and Rev. H.F.(Fite) Barnett, Belmont Baptist Church was established on Nov. 19, 1950.
The original meeting place for the church was located in a clubhouse behind the Gordon County Fire Department. Shortly thereafter, the church began meeting in the Seventh Day Adventist Church on South Wall Street on Sundays until the Belmont church building was completed.
Rev. H.F. (Fite) Barnett was the first pastor of the congregation. Since that time, Belmont has been led by 10 different pastors including their current pastor.
Pastor Hawkins and his family Pastor Hawkins was called to preach at the age of 19, he said, following a dark time in his life. However, after a call from God which left him in the hospital, Hawkins new the road God was paving for him.
“God used these experiences to bring me to Himself,” he said. “People kept asking me to share the experiences of how God changed my life, and more people were asking me to share my story so I thought something must be up here,” he said.
Prior to this life-changing experience, Hawkins was an artist and wanted to make a life out of designing album covers for heavy metal bands, he said. Since that time, he has come a long way.
Hawkins attended college at Columbia Bible College in Columbia, SC, which is now known as Columbia International, and he received his Masters in Divinity at Mid-American Baptist Seminary in Memphis, TN.
In March of 1986, he surrendered to preach at his home church of First Baptist of Alpheretta, he said.
Jeff has now been preaching for nearly 26 years.
According to Hawkins, his first church in Mississippi was growing and ready to enter into a building program, however, Hawkins did not feel that he was the man to lead them into this time of growth, he said.
“I had this sense in my heart that I had taken that church as far as I could take it, and it was time for another man to step in,” he said.
Hawkins prayed for God’s will on his knees on a Saturday afternoon, he said, and on the following Monday night he received a call from Belmont.
According to Hawkins, Belmont received his name through a strange set of circumstances and on the Sunday after he prayed that prayer, Belmont listened to one of his sermons on a tape and decided to contact him.
“It was definitely a clear answer to prayer,” he said.
According to Hawkins, life in Calhoun is enjoyable, and it reminds him of his hometown in Alpharetta before it grew in size and population, he said.
Lord willing, Hawkins will continue to lead Belmont for whatever God has in-store, he said. “I feel God wants me to carry through with this master plan,” he said.
Hawkins has been married to his wife, Margaret, for sixteen years. They have one son, Jay, who is 15.
“We aren’t a perfect church,” said Hawkins, “We have our struggles just like every church does, but Belmont has great potential. And...I would say that even if I wasn’t the pastor. It’s a wonderful church, and I am blessed to serve there.”