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Rev. Lonnie Grant leaving Nazarene Church

By Kay S. Pedrotti Barnesville Church of the Nazarene will continue to exist in its role as a leading light in community ministry but its beloved pastor Lonnie Grant has accepted appointment to the Valdosta Nazarene Church. The question, ‘If your church ceased to exist, would your community care?’ has been a central theme of Grant’s 11-plus years of service here. It’s been answered ‘yes’ numerous times by local citizens. Pastor Grant and the congregation were honored as Volunteers of the Year after the 2011 tornado, when the congregation opened its large parish hall building to store donated clothing, cleanup items, pet food, groceries, linens and many other needs for those who lost their homes in the storm. One of the church’s extended ministries also began after the storm when Barnesville Nazarene mem­bers began responding with buckets of cleaning supplies to other communities around the country after floods, tornadoes and other disasters. Grant says he was approached by the Nazarene district superintendent to transfer to Valdosta to a struggling congregation. He served as youth pastor there before coming to Barnesville and is familiar with the church. After much prayer, Grant says he and his wife Donna agreed it was God’s will ‘“ but it was hard to think of leaving ‘my home in a place I thought we’d never leave.’ He said it would be ‘easy to stay and do things like normal because everything is going great,’ but it would be hypocritical ‘to stand in the pulpit and ask the congregation to do God’s will if I’m not willing.’ It’s humbling, he added, to know Barnesville and its people love them so much but they are not ending any friendships just because they are leaving and will welcome visitors in Valdosta. The church is holding a dinner Sunday Feb. 22 in lieu of Sunday services. Friends are invited to drop through anytime that night to talk to Lonnie and Donna before they leave. ‘We love this church and community so much,’ Lonnie said. ‘Every day we see tears, and there hasn’t been a day that has gone by that Donna and I haven’t shed tears for this church.’

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