We are a Baptist congregation with a rich and unique evolution. Throughout our history, Oakhurst has wrestled with and reaffirmed a particular commitment to authentic Christian living. We have sought to follow Christ in facing issues of racial integration, women’s rights, homelessness, poverty, 12-step recovery, LGBTQ and marriage-equality rights, peace and non-violent action, disability rights, church hierarchy and other issues of justice. There exists now a firmly rooted culture of expectation that we will model among Baptists and other Christians a radical form of integrity to our own tradition, coupled with openness and relevance to a multi-cultural, inter-faith world.
When organized in 1913, Oakhurst affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Atlanta Baptist Association, the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Baptist World Alliance. Not all of these ties continue.
In 1987 Oakhurst became the first church to affiliate with the newly formed Alliance of Baptists, a group of dissident moderates within the SBC who felt basic Baptist freedoms were being lost to fundamentalists. Sadly, the Alliance attracted only about 120 churches. Then in 1991, a more representative group (about 1,500 churches) of moderate Southern Baptists formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and directed its energies to missions. Oakhurst members were part of the founding of this organization, and the church has supported the CBF, though to a lesser degree than the Alliance.
The church also participates in the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta. In 1992 the church adopted a new relationship with the American Baptist Churches in the USA, helping reconcile a split that began over slavery before the Civil War, thus becoming active in American Baptist Churches of the South Area III.
We also affiliate with a number of Baptists groups that are not denominations, including The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, which works for issues of peace and justice, and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, which works to include LGBTQ people in the full life of the church and the body of Christ.
During the fall of 1999, differences between the Southern Baptist Convention and Oakhurst led to our disfellowship from the Georgia Baptist Convention. This action was followed in the summer of 2000 with a letter from the Southern Baptist Convention that we were no longer considered a cooperating member of the SBC. The latest chapter on affiliations closed in the fall of 2001 as these differences found their way to the local Atlanta Baptist Association. After months of dialog and discussion, and threats of being de-funded by the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, the Executive Committee of the ABA voted to remove Oakhurst from its rolls as of the first of November, 2001.
Baptist churches share a strong belief in the freedom of the individual to read and interpret the Scriptures, the freedom of the local church to shape its own life, and the freedom to cooperate with other groups as the church desires. Baptist heritage affirms the need for church and state to exist free from the restraints of the other.