MONROE, Ga. — Pastors are sometimes depressed, distressed, discouraged, despondent, dejected, disconsolate, disheartened, even doleful. However, that is not true of Mike Peavy, pastor of Gratis Church in Monroe, Ga. At least, a recent visit with him gave every evidence that he is a joyful, compassionate, dedicated pastor who always seems to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.
Peavy grew up in Hawkinsville, Georgia, and was saved and baptized in Harmony Baptist Church in Unadilla. Mike and his wife, Angie, have three sons, one daughter and four grandchildren. After earning a business degree Mike spent some time working in a fertilizer plant and then for an insurance company.
However, in 1988 he was driving his automobile and listening to Dr. Charles Stanley preach a sermon on Jonah 1. The message was entitled “On the Run” and Peavy recalled the radio preacher saying, “There may be someone God is calling into the ministry. Don’t run from God; but run to God.” It was then and there that Peavy felt that God was calling him to preach the gospel.
Peavy began his ministry as the pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Oglethorpe. Then he served for three years at Butler Baptist Church in Butler, Ga. His three years in Butler were marked by revival and life change in the community. The next pastorate was at Gwinnett Place Baptist Church in Duluth where he invested seven years of his life loving the people of that fellowship. The next eleven years were spent at Bethlehem Baptist Church where he served with Pastor Jody Hice. He stated, “It was at the Bethlehem Church that I saw how big God is and how He can do the impossible.”
While at Bethlehem both Mike and Angie had dreams. Mike indicated that he dreamed of them having a baby. Angie said, “I dreamed of holding a baby in my arms.” They both wondered, “Does this mean that God wants us to start something new?” That is how the idea of planting a church was “birthed.”
Angie stated, “Church planting was not on our bucket list, but the Father knew best for us. It’s the hardest, yet the most fulfilling work we’ve ever done. However, I would do it all over again. There is no turning back. We decided to obey God and leave the circumstances up to the Lord.”
The Peavys initiated the idea of starting a church 13 years ago in their home with fifteen people present for an informational meeting. The actual date was October 10, 2010 (10-10-10). The official start of the church did not occur until August of 2011 with 125 present for the inaugural service.
In the initial stages of the church’s development, there was a dear African-American lady by the name of Elizabeth Paradise who was saved and baptized. She wanted to be baptized as a witness to her family at the age of 92 at Gratis Church. She endeared herself to everyone in the church and became known as “Grandma.” When the church had its official launch in 2011, the pastor was so excited that he forgot to take up the offering; and “Grandma” asked, “Will we be taking up an offering?” She was the first one to put money in the offering plate. Grandma Elizabeth went to be with Jesus in September of 2022, but her prayers and legacy still live on today at Gratis.
The Gratis Church has been meeting in the Walker Park Elementary School for 12 years. The school has been a gracious host, but faithful members have had the difficult task of refitting a school facility into a place of worship for hundreds of weeks. The act of transforming an elementary school where they have gathered for all those years into a place of worship demonstrates a flexible and faithful community of believers.
There have been 70-plus baptisms signifying the importance of individuals making a public commitment to their faith, and the reality of lives being transformed by knowing Jesus is a testament to the spiritual impact of Gratis Church. It's heartening to know that the church is multi-generational and embraces people with open arms, fostering a sense of inclusivity and community.
Church planters typically launch out in faith and so did the Peavys. Angie has taught school for years which allowed Mike to take what amounted to a small stipend from the church. However, he remarked, “I am not in it for the income, but for the outcome.” He longs to see people saved and lives changed.
The new building is in the northeast corner of Walton County and sits on 14½ acres of prime property which the church purchased for $131,000 and paid cash to do it. Peavy explained that some people objected to the church's location in the area they selected for their building, and that opinion was stated at the meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission of the county. However, the chairman stood up and declared, “I am a God-fearing man, and we need more churches in our community.”
His bold declaration silenced the naysayers and the Commission voted unanimously to approve the construction of the church on the purchased property.
Peavy indicated that the Lord has miraculously provided for every need in fulfilling their vision and that $500,000 has come from outside the church.
The date for the dedication service is looming on the near horizon and the exact date has not yet been determined, but Peavy emphasized that 250 people now consider Gratis as their church, that the worship center in the new building will accommodate 300 individuals, and he estimates that it will be filled on that first Sunday.