Under the leadership of the first pastor, Rev. Sam Stinson, The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church was formed more than 143 years ago by a Sunday school and prayer meeting group. Rev. William Tillman (Father Tillman), pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church, organized the church in May 1876.
Some of the former pastors include Rev. T. T. Gholston, Dr. Martin L. King Sr., Dr. Sandy F. Ray, Dr. J. W. Tate, Dr. Leonard Ashbury Pinkston and Dr. Hubert Floyd Shepherd.
Rev. Hubert Floyd Shepherd was extended the call to pastor the church in 1957. The church’s membership flourished in the Edgewood community of Atlanta, Ga. so much so that December 1973 the ministry moved from 119 Mayson Avenue to 2589 Tilson Road, Decatur, Ga. The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church continued to grow and on Sunday, March 20, 1994, a ground breaking service was held to mark the start of construction on a new building. Two years later, on Sunday, September 29, 1996, the church relocated and dedicated its $8 million, 2,200-seat sanctuary at 2600 Whites Mill East (later renamed H.F. Shepherd Drive) in Decatur, Ga.
On March 26, 2003, Rev. H. F. Shepherd retired as pastor and The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church (The House of Hope Atlanta) began its search for a new pastor. A pulpit committee was formed and commenced an eight-month search for a new pastor. In November 2003, God sent a Spirit-filled man in the person of Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Jr., and on December 21, 2003, he was installed as the 22nd pastor of the church. Under Dr. Smith’s leadership, the church has grown phenomenally in membership, attendance and finances. By Dr. Smith’s fifth year as pastor, the membership had more than quadrupled. In 2009, the church purchased and relocated to a 60 acre, 7 building campus, that features a 7,000 seat neo-Gothic cathedral. Additionally, a myriad of capital improvements, enhancements and investments in the community have been made. With this acquisition, the church is well-positioned for expansion and Kingdom building opportunities.
As its name suggests, The House of Hope Atlanta offers hope to those desiring respite from the trials and tribulations of life and guidance to those earnestly seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ. The church welcomes those in metro Atlanta and beyond to worship God, share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others and execute the business of the Kingdom with excellence.