Briarlake Baptist Church: History

Though Briarlake is innovative and relevant in order to reach people in our post-modern culture, the church has actually been in existence for over 50 years. On the first Sunday of February 1958, 125 people met at Briarlake Elementary School for the purpose of starting Briarlake Baptist Chapel with sponsorship from the Clairmont Hills Baptist Church and the Atlanta Baptist Association. 

Clay Manley served as the mission pastor until the church constituted on August 2, 1959. On August 2, 1959, Hoffman Harris was called as pastor and served in that role until his retirement in 1988. Ground was broken in October 1959 for Briarlake's first building, a chapel seating 250. In the years to come, five educational buildings, a sanctuary seating 950, activities building, a ball field and tennis courts would be added.

Accepting the church's call to become their second pastor, Don Bouldin began his ministry on November 5, 1989 and served until January 1999. Briarlake's third pastor, Bill Patterson, served from June 2000 through July 2002.

On Sunday September 26, 2004, Briarlake began a new journey with the pastoral leadership of Tommy Ferrell. In 2005, the activities building was renovated to accommodate the church's new contemporary styled worship service, Backlot. Other renovations have occurred to keep the campus relevant and appealing.

Throughout its history Briarlake has been missions-minded, with strong support of the Cooperative Program and in sending out mission teams to North American and international mission sites. Briarlake sponsored the establishment of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in DeKalb County; Atkinson Road Baptist Church in Gwinnett County; and has given financial support to numerous other mission churches across the United States.

Three ethnic congregations, Hispanic, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese, have been started at Briarlake. Beginning as a Sunday School class in 1979, the Hispanic work grew, moved from Briarlake into a modular building in Norcross in 1996, and then into its own facility in 1998, constituted as the New Jerusalem Baptist Church. In 2007 the Chinese congregation relocated to Gwinnett County in order to be closer to Mandarin population clusters. 

Briarlake’s emerging mission and church planting strategy centers around church to church mission partnerships, which include sending financial support as well as short term mission teams from Briarlake to serve alongside indigenous churches both in the United States and internationally.  We currently have mission partnerships in Capetown, South Africa; Hyderabad, India; Merida, Mexico; Bluffton, South Carolina; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Connecticut.