It is our Story but it is truly God’s Glory!!!
In the beginning God spoke to Minister Gary Hawkins, Sr, then a member of Hopewell Baptist Church, to begin a ministry in Stone Mountain, Georgia, which led to a Bible Study class on February 8, 1994 at Brownsmill Recreation Center.
On August 21, 1994, Voices of Faith Baptist Church was birthed with its first service held at the Greater Life Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia; Eighty-two devoted family members and friends came to worship. After two services, Voices returned to Brownsmill Recreation Center from September 1994-July 1995. During this season, Voices members had to set up the center each Sunday for worship service. Although only a few people were in attendance, Pastor Hawkins required one hundred chairs to be placed each Sunday. One particular Sunday, Deacon Aaron Hawkins asked Pastor Hawkins, “Why do we keep placing so many chairs with only a few in attendance?” Pastor Hawkins responded, “These chairs are not for those that are here, but for those that God will be sending. Therefore, place as many chairs as you can fit.” Pastor Hawkins always taught Voices to see the bigger picture. Voices did not have a Minister of Music at the time, but you could not tell us Kirk Franklin was not our Minister of Music via cassette tape. We must have played his cassette over and over again!
July 16, 1995 Rockbridge Road Baptist Church in Stone Mountain opened its doors to Voices of Faith where we worshiped until October 21, 1997. The congregation grew to well over 200 members and we knew we were at the place God wanted to plant the church; so we thought. Once again, Voices of Faith Baptist Church found itself in need of a church home.
October 21, 1997 Voices began a two year wilderness period worshiping in Stephenson Middle School in Stone Mountain, losing many members. Pastor Hawkins remained faithful and committed to God’s call, as a result, God blessed Voices to purchase 20 acres of land and erect a 6,000-square-foot sanctuary. The 75 member congregation held its first service on July 25, 1999 filled to capacity and placing extra chairs as overflow to witness an amazing ribbon cutting ceremony and worship service.
Pastor Hawkins had received a vision from God that yielded a paradigm shift in the kingdom. On January 19, 2002 Pastor Hawkins change the name from Voices of Faith Baptist Church to Voices of Faith Ministries. With that change, the ministry grew rapidly.
To God’s glory, by December 5, 1999 the congregation multiplied tremendously, thus a second and third service was added, unfolding God’s plan to build the City of Faith. The 40,000 square-foot Family Life Center opened for worship in June 2002 to serve the more than 5,000 faithful, spirit-filled members and visitors who showed up each Sunday. Once again, God showed up and filled the house to capacity, and having to place additional seating for the dedication ceremony of this new edifice.
In January 2004 a ground breaking ceremony was held for the VOF Christian Day Care. The center provides childcare and schooling for infants 6 weeks – K4 in a Christian and safe environment. The center officially opened November 2004.
Then God said, let there be the “City of Faith” in Rockdale County, and on July 18, 2004, 90 people showed up to witness the first service conducted at Rockdale High School. Also, during this time, God elevated Pastor Hawkins and he was consecrated as Bishop on November 9, 2005.
In December of 2006 VOF successfully completed construction of its second location and was now facilitating three services in two counties. The dedication ceremony was held February 18, 2007 with over 1,500 in attendance, including City Officials, visiting Pastors and Bishops. Voices of Faith Ministries made history in Rockdale County as being the first African American Church to be built in the county.
When God saw what He had done and saw it was good, He sent VOF to Clayton County where the South location was established, January 2007, with Pastor James T. Murkison being the first son at the helm. This location has seen study growth in Hampton, Georgia through its outreach efforts. Pastor Murkison is known for his charismatic flair of preaching that reaches all ages from young to season.
Then God said it is not good for the ministry to reach Georgia alone and in July 2008, VOF launched its fourth location in Baton Rouge, LA, the hometown of our spiritual leader, Bishop Gary Hawkins. Bishop Hawkins always had a desire to go to Baton Rouge, LA (his hometown) to plant a church. He knew that with updated technology, it could be done. VOF Ministries was able to purchase a retail shopping plaza in Baton Rouge which houses a church with a seating capacity of 500. During the time it was scheduled to open, Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana. God was waiting to see how Voices would respond. A team from the mother church, including Bishop Hawkins, traveled to Baton Rouge carrying God in our hearts determining to see the vision through. With generators, food for the community, water and a willing spirit Voices of Faith (Baton Rouge) held its first service on September 7, 2008, with approximately 300 in attendance and 57 became new members. Within one month the total membership grew to 107. Now we are one church with four locations.
On July 19, 2009 God sent to Bishop Hawkins and Voices of Faith Ministries a giant in the body of Christ, Bishop Emeritus, Egleton Leroy Woodside, Sr., as spiritual guidance to see Voices to its next level in ministry.
In August 2012, the baton was passed to Pastor Carlos Marshall as Voices of Faith East was birthed in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Pastor Marshall is reaching the surrounding areas with his innovative style of teaching/preaching.
As with any ministry, Voices of Faith has seen its share of challenges, yet God brought us through them all. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana church was sitting in hurricane alley. Each time it stormed, the plaza was hit, facing damage beyond repair. But through it all, God showed favor and blessed Voices with an opportunity to swap the old building with its new sanctuary with the first service being held on September 15, 2013 with over 200 people in attendance, including notable community leaders and some city officials.
On June 7, 2014, for the first time in the VOF 20 year history, the anthem of the house was raised, producing a Stellar CD that is sure to reach the depths of your soul. This Live in Worship CD produced ten amazing songs, in which three (You Kept Me, Where is Your Faith and In the Right Place) were written by our very own overseer, Bishop Gary Hawkins, Sr.
On Sunday, June 8, 2014, our Overseer, Bishop Gary Hawkins, Sr., officially named Voices of Faith Ministries as Voices Nation! “If we are going to reach the Nation, we need to declare that we are a Nation.”
Growing a great ministry for the kingdom certainly has its setbacks. For a brief moment, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana location was in search of a fulltime Pastor. After several months of prayer, in search of a pastor to fulfill the call for this location and with a number of interested applicants, the elevation came from within. God led our Overseer, Bishop Gary Hawkins to name and ordain Minister Brandon Buckley, a member since 2009, the official pastor of Voices of Faith Louisiana’s Baton Rouge location. This blessing came with years of experience of walking in leadership. Pastor Brandon Buckley’s musical style of praise and worship, mixed with the oracles of God brings a fresh sweet savor to reach a generation seeking to know Jesus Christ. Elders and Leaders from the mother church traveled to Baton Rouge with the Overseer and First Lady Pamela Hawkins, to participate and witness this laying-on-of-hands sacred ceremony on September 14, 2014.
There were close to 250 members and visitors in attendance to also witness this awesome elevation in the kingdom. On September 24, 2014 the official “Where Is Your Faith” video went viral. This dynamic project was filmed by Voices of Faith Media Ministry and included participants from our Mass Choir, Living Faith Drama Ministry, Dance Ministry and members of our congregation. These up and rising actors and actress blessed the kingdom with their unlimited gifts and talents. Also featured in the video is our very own Overseer, Bishop Gary Hawkins, First Lady Pamela Hawkins and psalmist Letecia Miles of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Still believing in God for a Stellar Award for an awesome project “Live In Worship” Voices of Faith unanimously voted to promote the hit single “Where Is Your Faith” which has been climbing the charts since its release.
In the September 2014 Outreach Magazine The American Megachurch Outreach Edition, Voices of Faith Ministries ranked 73 of 100 largest churches in America! Voices was also featured as one of the churches with the most locations. Today, Voices Nation is one church in five locations, with a total membership of over 13,000 and growing!
April 13, 2016 was the official release of the Live in Worship CD featuring Gospel Recording Artist Zacardi Cortez in collaboration with Bishop Gary Hawkins on the hit single “You Kept Me”.
In 2016 Bishop Gary Hawkins, Sr. received President Barack Obama’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service.
In 2017 Voices of Faith Christian Daycare in Stone Mountain was nominated by Gwinnett Magazine as Best of Gwinnett top daycares.
Voices is known for its heart of serving and giving through our Outreach Ministry who sponsors the annual Back-to-School Block Party whereby we give over 300 book bags filled with school supplies during the month of July.
During the month of October, Voices participate in the Cancer Walk and recognize those that are still battling and survivors with donations, makeovers, gift bags and much more to assist during their journey. Voices also bring awareness to our members, as well as sponsor where needed for families of domestic violence.
For our annual Thanksgiving drive Voices feed over 400 families, including providing boxes filled with food to assist those that are financially challenged during this season, including families from our surrounding schools to offer this aide during their break.
Our Angel Tree sponsored by Voices Prison Ministry, offers toys to children of families incarcerated. For over ten years God has blessed Voices, through donations, to provide toys for more than a thousand children; easing the burden off the loved one unable to provide at the time.
It is Voices of Faith Ministries ultimate goal to please God in every area of this journey therefore, continuing to carry out the church vision: “To reach and disciple the unchurched with love and simplicity,” VOF has launched more than four dozen ministries to serve the surrounding communities, to include two daycares, a Christian Academy, faith plaza, Fitness Facility, Hair Salon and much more.
Each year, since 2012, all locations (Stone Mountain, Conyers, Hampton, and Lawrenceville, Georgia and Baton Rouge, Louisiana) come to the Mother Church (Stone Mountain) on the second Sunday in June at the 11:30am service, for the annual Homecoming Tailgate Celebration. Over 100 tents are placed on the campus and all the auxiliaries, ministries and families from all locations are cooking, eating, playing games and enjoying lots of laughter and fellowship all while serving our visitors and the surrounding communities.