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.
Rev. Simmons is a native of Tifton, Georgia. He is the former pastor of Trinity AME Church in Atlanta, GA where he served for the past 4 years.
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.
While serving at Trinity AME, 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 he found it.
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 Lake City, Florida and Vankeithin of South Korea, and one daughter Vankeila of Houston Texas, and the grandfather of Nakai and Dorian.
Rev. Vandy C. Simmons
our church history
Pictured (l. to r.) Pastor Vandy Simmons, First Lady Dr. Bonita Simmons, Nakai, VanKeila, 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.
Pastor Simmons 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 Lake City, Florida and Vankeithin of North Dakota, and one daughter, Vankeila of Houston, Texas, and the grandfather of Dorian and Nakai.
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
Dorothy Ford – Business Administrator
James Simon – Church Treasurer
Cord Franklin – Minister of Music
Janice Hardy, Operations Manager
Rev. Garland Higgins – Director of Christian Education
Jean Swafford – Assistant