Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta’s “Song of Freedom” started to take shape over 30 years ago right here in the metro Atlanta area as the young, charismatic lad was sitting in the upstairs bedroom of his aunt and uncle on a Sunday afternoon following morning service at Green Pastures Christian Ministries in Decatur, Georgia. While sitting and waiting in the presence of God was nothing new for the young Troy Sanders, this day would be significantly different and would stand out in the heart and mind of the young prophet for days, months, and years to come. As he sat on the floor of that room, he answered the call of God pressed on the altar of his heart to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After collecting himself, he ran downstairs of 3246 Goldenchain Drive, Lithonia, Georgia and told his aunt what he saw and heard. February of following year in the Honey Ford Baptist Church in Denmark, South Carolina, Troy was licensed into ministry by the Late Reverend C. F. Mitchell at the age of 15 after preaching his “Trial Sermon” on a cool winter’s Sunday afternoon.
While the years that followed that experience took Troy through many changes, transitions, relocations, and reconstructions, one thing remained clear, he could not outrun the “hand of God’ on a boy who bore a “mature” call. After relocating to Atlanta, Georgia in 1993, the young Minister Troy Sanders served in various ministerial capacities including youth pastor, administrative assistant, minister of music, youth evangelist, praise team leader, choir member, Sunday school teacher, and the like.
Little did he know that each of these positions would not only add value to his life and call, but also serve as critical training ground for what would later become the clear makings of a church planter and senior pastor. Through the leadership of Bishop Otto Hines and First Lady Towanda Hines, Bishop-Elect Troy was mentored and ordained into ministry. This relationship as “spiritual son” further cultivated the prophetic and pastoral gift that remains intact even after taking a different theological path, of which Bishop-Elect Troy is still thankful.
After struggling with God but more so himself, his own sexuality, and the ways in which his religious heritage caused his great conflict and ultimately gave way to a spiritual crisis that brought him face to face with the truth of who God made him and how this reality would get integrated in his Christian walk and ministry. It was during this time of reconciling his spirituality and sexuality that he met Bishop O. C. Allen and The Vision Church of Atlanta. For the first time in his spiritual journey, Bishop-Elect Troy was nurtured back from a dark and wounded place by the bold witness of Bishop Allen as he proudly declared his truth as a same gender loving proud Pentecostal Pastor. Enriched by the gift of friendship, mentorship, and fellowship he found in “Clay and Rashad," Bishop-Elect Troy began the journey back to the thing he thought he had left for good.
It was through this assignment as Executive Administrative Pastor at the Vision Church that Bishop-Elect Troy met Mother Ruth E. Langston as she preached the first revival service for The Vision Church. The laughs, the conversations, the prayers, the genuine love Mother Ruth Langston gave to Bishop-Elect Troy reminded him of his own great-grandmother, the Late Queenie Johnson. During the final days of her visit, Mother Langston suggested and facilitated what she felt was a needful meeting of between Bishop-Elect Troy and her daughter, Bishop Yvette Flunder. Shortly after that, while sitting across the table from Bishop Flunder and Mother Shirley Miller at The Emory Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Bishop-Elect Troy knew he had finally found the mentor, pastor, mother, and Bishop that he had so long sought after.
Bishop-Elect Troy remained active and submitted to the pastoral leadership of Bishop Yvette Flunder even while serving on the ministerial staff of The Victory for the World Church under the leadership of Dr. Kenneth L. Samuel. Dr. Samuel not only encouraged Bishop-Elect Troy to excel in ministry but freely gave opportunity for him to preach, teach and use his gift of song. Wholeheartedly appreciative for the love and support extend to him, Dr. Samuel helped to cultivate a hermeneutic of social justice in the preaching/teaching ministry of Bishop-Elect Troy.
After leaving his position as Assistant Pastor at The Victory Church, Bishop-Elect Troy continued in conversation with Bishop Flunder as they discerned together the will of God regarding what was next. It was through this time of prayer and vulnerable conversation that Bishop-Elect Troy answered the call to prepare to plant a new church in the Atlanta area.
For the next few months,Bishop-Elect Troy sought the wise counsel of those he held as spiritual advisors and voices of wisdom. Through these times of discernment, Bishop-Elect Troy felt his next steps was to gather a small group of people together in his home for a “clearing session” with regards to the possibility of a church plant.
In September of 2014, Bishop-Elect Troy not only answered that call but also committed to taking the next 12 months to build a strong infrastructure for a new church. On October 17, 2014, Bishop-Elect Troy and a group of 25 people held the first strategic meeting for Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta in the basement of his home. Over the span of the next 14 months, these founding members would labor together to love, fellowship, and intentional dialogue as they worked together to carve out the vision, mission, and purpose of the church.
In January 2015, Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta began having Strategic Planning Meetings in downtown Atlanta at 255 Walker Street as a result of the generosity of Mr. Carl M. & Dr. Carol T. Williams, of Carl M. Williams Funeral Directors, Inc., donating their building free of charge.
On Easter Sunday of 2015, Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta officially launched our MakeRoom4Me campaign. During this initial launch, the church’s first website, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, and Twitter account went live. Through the dedication of skillful individuals using their gifts of business administration, website development, marketing, social media, culinary arts, outreach, training & development, hospitality, helps, prayer, fasting, writing, research, realty, finance, time, and careful consideration, Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta began taking shape.
On the 4th Sunday in July, Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta began holding our monthly Hour of Power Prayer Service in the chapel of Carl M. Williams Funeral Directors, Inc. located at 492 Larkin Street, Southwest, Atlanta, Georgia. These powerful times of prayer, praise and worship would serve as the bedrock and spiritual undergirding of the work God was calling us to do in the Atlanta Area.
While some of those who started the journey with us in October of 2014 have relocated to other states, and others have discerned that their journey would lead them into other directions, we remain grateful to those who prayed for us, helped us build through your creative thinking, positive feedback, words of wisdom, heartfelt advice, and even respectful disagreements. All of these things have helped to make the rich tapestry of what we now sit in the midst of.
The road ahead of us is still long, and the several components of our journey are still unknown. Even in the face of the questions about tomorrow, the uncertainty of next steps, we are clear that God’s grace “has brought us safe thus far”. And we know that with the leadership of a senior pastor who’s secret desire is to please God and “do right by God’s people”, coupled with the watchful eye and spiritual leadership of the Bishop and denomination that covers us, all while having a group of radical, revolutionary, “out of the box”, powerful prolific preachers, teachers, quiet supporters, noise-making, social justice seeking, traditional, non-conforming, forward thinkers that Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta will continue to make room for us as we flourish.