East Cobb Baptist is a church that knows God can


MARIETTA, Ga. — On April 8, 1906, the Rev. Charles S. Wing preached a sermon that was published in the New York Tribune. As a part of his sermon, he referred to the “Story of the Engine that Thought it Could.” Despite the steep climb and heavy load, the engine slowly succeeded in pulling the train over the high mountain while repeating the phrase, “I think I can.”

East Cobb Baptist Church is not a large church numerically, but it is large in vision, purpose, faith and is growing, not necessarily because the membership’s “think-they-can” attitude, but because “they-know-God-can.”

The Southern Baptist Convention is blessed with thousands of churches, some large and some small, some contemporary, some traditional, some vibrant with life, others struggling to stay alive. However, the “I-know-God-can” mentality could revitalize about any church. After all, did not Jesus say, “According to your faith so shall it be unto you” (Matthew 9:29)?

 East Cobb Baptist Church in Marietta has an amazing history of faith, love, and commitment. The church could correctly be defined as a traditional, hymn-singing, gospel-preaching, soul-winning church; and it is a healthy, growing congregation of believers who love the Lord and are excited about the future.

Johnny Foster, pastor of the East Cobb church explained, “We are who we are; and don’t feel the pressure to be something else. We have discovered that there are youth who are not looking for a church that is trying to replicate the songs they may hear on some of the Christians radio stations in the area. They have found acceptance and love in our congregation and a Christian authenticity that is welcoming and refreshing.

“If we try to do the trendy things that some churches do with such success we are at a disadvantage from the start. We try to provide God-honoring worship experiences and seem to offer what some people have been seeking. Others come not knowing what they are looking for and rejoice in what they find in our church.

“James is a young physically disadvantaged adult who is confined to a wheelchair. His mother brings him to church with her and while he finds it difficult to move his hands in most circumstances, we often find him looking heavenward in our services with a big smile on his face and lifting his hands in praise to God.”

Ron Curtis, the chairman of the deacons at East Cobb hails Foster as a strong Gospel preacher. He avows, “Our pastor has been with us for eleven years and from the first day he came, it has been obvious that his preaching has come from the heart of God with fire and passion; and I have never heard him preach the same sermon twice."

Foster is also a gifted pianist and musician and directs the church’s choir and plans the worship services. Curtis explained, “Because of our pastor’s leadership our music touches the heart and soul of everyone in our congregation.  I love our music. We sing hymns and sometimes there is a Southern Gospel song inserted into the order of worship. It is just good, old-fashioned, soul-stirring music."

John D. Witvliet, in his book, Renew Your Worship, writes, “Hymns serve the purposes of Christian corporate worship. Though they have value for personal devotional use, for humming on the streets, for serving as the basis for elaborate compositions for choir and organ, their primary purpose is to allow a gathered community to thank God, confess sin, ask for divine intervention, and express hope for the coming kingdom of God.”

Pastor Foster added, “We have discovered that the one thing that really crosses generational lines is the moving of the Holy Spirit. We just try to do the best we can and offer it to God.”

In recent years East Cobb has experienced some significant growth; and on July 9 voted to build a $2.5 million addition to their current facility on Shallowford Road. Foster and Curtis facilitated the meeting in the church worship center that was filled with an excited congregation. A thorough discussion ensued and the vote to proceed with plans for the new construction passed unanimously.

Curtis noted, “Some of the people came that night not only prepared to vote in the affirmative, but with their checkbooks in hand to contribute to the proposed addition to our facilities. We all left the church business meeting that night feeling like we had been in the presence of God.”  

Foster added, “We want to have a million dollars in hand before we begin the construction of the building, but we already have over $680,000. In the past two months we have seen 35% of that million-dollar goal increase to 68%. I think we should be able to start the building next spring.”

The preliminary sketches of the new building reveal plans for a two-story educational building and an expansion of the church’s worship center. Carol Cantrell, one of the church’s charter members, stated, “East Cobb Baptist has been blessed with a history of a loving fellowship that gives generously and honors Christ.”