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About us

at antioch a.m.e. church:

Our Mission is to love God and God’s people in word and deed.

Our Vision is to be the church in the community for the community.  A church that is growing spiritually, numerically, and financially.  A church that has vibrant ministries that impact our community for the glory of God.

our pastor

Rev. Vandy Carl Simmons is a native of Tifton, Georgia.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Valdosta State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Turner Theological Seminary in Atlanta.  In October 2016, Bishop Reginald T. Jackson appointed him to serve as the Senior Pastor of Antioch AME Church in Stone Mountain, GA, following the leadership of long-term pastor, Bishop Stafford J.N. Wicker, who currently presides in the 8th Episcopal District of the AME Church.  

While serving as Senior Pastor of Antioch for the past five years, following are some of the major tasks that have been accomplished: Newly renovated sanctuary, newly renovated bathrooms, new carpet throughout church building, renovated fellowship hall, newly paved parking lot, painted parking spaces and additional handicap parking, new doors, renovated food pantry, painted the daycare, and new alarm system.

Under Rev. Simmons’ leadership, Antioch’s mission is to be “In the Community, For the Community” through strong partnerships with Freedom Middle School and Friends of Hairston Park.  Antioch received $23,000 from DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw to provide financial assistance to the surrounding community; and, recently secured an additional $50,000 to continue providing financial assistance.  Additionally, Antioch serves as a host for town hall meetings, a mental health forum, summer camp for the learning disabled, career fair, and back to school free hair braiding and haircuts.  During the pandemic, Antioch secured Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds to support full-time staff, served as a Virtual Learning Center for youth whose parents returned to work, and served as a COVID-19 testing site, and currently serves as a vaccination/booster site.

Because of his dedication and commitment to Antioch, he has received the following awards:  Clergy of the Year from Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Clergy of the Year from Lay Organization, Best Pastor award from Antioch Seniors in Action, 2017 Hall of Fame inductee of Tift County Athletics, 2018 Hall of Fame inductee of Turner Theological Seminary, 2019 Hall of Fame inductee of the Sons of Allen, People’s Choice Award from Sixth Episcopal District, and Family Strengthening Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc – Stone Mountain/Lithonia chapter. 

He served as Senior Pastor at Trinity AME Church in Atlanta for four years.  While serving at Trinity, following the leadership of long term pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeffery B. Cooper, General Secretary, he led the way in extending outreach ministries, and stabilizing the finances of the church.  Under his leadership, the Trinity Early Learning Center received 501c3 status and became Quality Rated serving over one hundred children.  He expanded ministries specifically targeting youth, elderly, and the marginalized.  As a pastor and servant of God, Rev. Simmons endeavors to leave any charge under his care better than when he first arrived.

Rev. Simmons served the Whigham Circuit (Cedar Springs and Ebenezer AME Churches) in Grady County, the South Georgia Conference; New Hope AME Church in Haralson, GA; Mt. Pleasant AME Church in Atlanta, GA, New Grant AME Church in East Point, GA, and Trinity AME Church in Atlanta, GA.  Rev. Simmons is a retired teacher who taught and coached in Tift, Dougherty, and Clayton Counties.  During his residency in Tift and Dougherty, he served as a Scout Leader and a local NAACP President.  While serving at Mt. Pleasant AME Church, he implemented Mt. Pleasant Community Outreach Program, which focused on youth literacy and leadership.  

our first family

Rev. Simmons is a man of God who is deeply committed to his family. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Dr. Bonita Morrow Simmons, an employee of the Atlanta Public School System.  He is a proud father of two sons, VanDorian of McDonough, GA and VanKeithin of South Korea, and one daughter VanKeila who is deceased, and the grandfather of Nakai and Dorian

Rev. Vandy C. Simmons

Senior Pastor

our church history

Pictured (l. to r.) Pastor Vandy Simmons, First Lady Dr. Bonita Simmons, Nakai, VanKeila (deceased), and VanKeithen Simmons.

Having the distinction of being the first black church of Decatur, Georgia, the Antioch African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded during the early reconstruction era in 1868. Several faithful and progressive minded Christians decided to begin a church where they could have the privilege of worshiping in their own manner, among their own people; thus, Antioch was born. The original group began meeting on the first and third Sundays at the home of Sister Lou Bratcher on Electric Avenue.  The members included brothers: Henry Anderson, Jethro Brooks, William Howard, Van Ross, James Jackson, and several others. They chose the name “Antioch” after the city in the Scriptures where the disciples were first called Christians. Antioch continues to hold its own reference in the DeKalb Historical Society records.


Growing in membership, the church prospered and in 1874 a one room building was constructed on Marshall Street.  Members received tickets to worship inside the structure since it was too small to accommodate all who wanted to attend service. The services were conducted by ministers.   Many descendants of those families are still represented today in the Antioch Church.


Antioch has hosted two Annual Conferences and one Midyear Convocation.  In the early 1930’s, the Reverend D.W. Wiggs reorganized the church to begin plans for the construction of a new structure.  This was a remarkable feat, especially since the great depression was taking its toll on the entire country. In the 1940’s, under the pastorate of Reverend B. C. Carswell, the entire indebtedness of the church was paid off.  The sacrifice of dedicated members is a credit to this achievement as the church was assigned seven (7) ministers during that decade.


In 1965, under the great ministry of renowned orator and artist Dr. Thomas J. Flanagan, the land was purchased and a new modern edifice on Atlanta Avenue was erected.  The church was centered in a well-established, middle-class minority community which overlooked the city of Decatur.  Several pastors of honorable mention followed Dr. Flanagan’s tenure:  Rev. W. L. Few, Rev. W. J. Sanford, Rev. E. E. Adams Jr., Rev. E. P. Yorpp, Rev. F. C. Maddox, Rev. C. Wilkerson, Rev. Larry W. Hudson, and Rev. Dr. Stafford J. Wicker. Under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Larry Hudson, the address of Atlanta Avenue was historically retired.  The street was then named Hibernia Avenue.    Reflecting on Antioch’s rich heritage under the tenure of Rev. E. E. Adams Jr., the congregation praised God as the mortgage for the Atlanta Avenue site was burned in March of 1981.  Since that time, the community surrounding the church changed as the city of Decatur facilitated their plans for urban renewal.


In October 1992 Rev. Stafford Wicker was appointed to Antioch. Under his leadership, Antioch was incorporated in 1993. The members became enthusiastic about growth and the future of the historic church. On September 24, 1995, the congregation stepped out on faith and moved from Decatur to a $1 million edifice at 765 South Hairston Road, Stone Mountain, Georgia which houses a 450-seat sanctuary, classrooms, a full-service kitchen and fellowship hall. This relocation was one of the largest acquisitions among A.M.E. churches in the southeastern United States.


In 1998, a second $1 million acquisition, 4730 Elam Road in Stone Mountain, GA, gave Antioch the distinction of being one church in two locations.  On this site is a church building with a sanctuary, classrooms, kitchen, the Antioch AME Childcare and Development Center, a gymnasium and a rental house.  Both sites together brought its landownership to thirty-five acres.


In 2000, 32 acres of land were purchased near South Hairston Road and Covington Highway where first phase of the Antioch Manor Estates, a 120-unit senior housing development was completed in 2004. In 2012, the second phase was built housing 46 units in the Antioch Villas, and 60 units in Antioch Gardens.  Each property maintains a waiting list of applicants desiring residence at the facilities.


In 2007, a third church campus situated on 15 acres of land was acquired at 1790 Ebenezer Road in Conyers, Georgia. This property contains a sanctuary, 2 kitchens, meeting rooms and a separate fellowship hall, giving Antioch the distinction of owning and controlling 82 acres of land, making it the only three (3) site church in the connection.


On July 11, 2016, Pastor Stafford Wicker was elected and consecrated the 137th Bishop of the A.M.E. Church at the 50th Quadrennial of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, becoming the first pastor from Antioch to be elevated to the position of Bishop.


In October 2016, the Reverend Vandy Carl Simmons was appointed the new pastor of Antioch AME Church.  A spiritual renewal was begun through high praise, worship and preaching by the new pastor.  Bible studies, prayer meetings, workshops, seminars, and other teaching vehicles designed to empower the laity of the church have been established.  Under the tenure of Rev. Vandy Simmons, the Conyers campus was sold in 2019.


Rev. Conrad Barnett

Rev. Charles Blalock

Rev. Harmel Codi

Rev. Clyde Corbin

Rev. Graylan Daugherty

Rev. Myron Deas

Rev. Garland Higgins

Rev. Anita Spencer Stevens

Rev. Roland Young

Vernal Cousar, Business Administrator

James Simon, Church Treasurer

Rev. Adrian Johnson, Minister of Music

Craig Scott, Operations Manager

Rev. Garland Higgins, Executive Pastor

ministerial staff
office staff
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