Who We Are
On June 20, 2012, Holy Cross Episcopal Church celebrated its fifty-eight anniversary as a congregation in the Diocese of Atlanta. Holy Cross began when fifteen families from
Holy Trinity Church in Decatur charted the course for a new parish with their first service as a mission congregation. The need for a new congregation was a result of the rapid growth of South DeKalb County. The congregation initially met at the old Southwest DeKalb High School. Holy Cross was incorporated on September 1, 1954. A few months later, the congregation moved to its first home, a refurbished World War II Army hospital building and celebrated its first service on Christmas Eve, 1954.
Four priests in its fifty-year history have served Holy Cross. The Venerable John Lee Womack served as Vicar of the mission congregation from its inception until 1962 when he became the full-time Archdeacon of the Diocese of Atlanta. Father Womack was succeeded by the Rev. Charles M. Roper.
Under the direction of Father Roper, Holy Cross attained full parish status in 1967. He became the first Rector and continued to serve Holy Cross until 1978, when he was called to another parish. Also under Father Roper’s leadership, the current church was built and dedicated to the glory of God in 1971.
In 1979, Father E. Don Taylor, a Jamaican-born priest, came to Holy Cross. He had recently arrived from a church in Buffalo, New York and was serving as the Vicar of Holy Comforter, a parish located six miles from Holy Cross. Because of the financial realities, Bishop Bennett Sims asked Father Taylor to serve in the dual roles of Vicar of Holy Cross and Vicar of Holy Comforter. He became the full-time Vicar of Holy Cross a year later with financial assistance from the diocese. This occurred in January 1982, and Holy Cross reverted to being an “Aided Parish.” Under Father Taylor’s leadership, Holy Cross doubled its membership. This increase was due in part to the large influx of Caribbean natives who were attracted to Holy Cross because of an affinity to Father Taylor. He left Holy Cross in January 1987 to become the Bishop of the Virgin Islands.
Father Kent E. Belmore became the fourth priest to serve Holy Cross when he became Vicar in 1988.
Father Belmore came to Holy Cross from Charleston, South Carolina. Holy Cross experienced unprecedented growth during the early years of his leadership. Within a few years, Holy Cross moved from “Aided Parish Status” to full Parish status. Major renovations to Royall Hall and the removal of the Barracks Building for the new Education Building occurred. After 16 years of service, Father Belmore left Holy Cross in May 2004 to become Rector of a Parish in Mobile, Alabama.
On August 13, 2006, the Rev. Brian Anthony Jemmott, a native of Trinidad & Tobago, W. I., assumed rectorship. Fr. Brian, as he is affectionately called, has been in the Diocese of Atlanta since April 1997, when he moved here from the Diocese of Chicago, to become Chaplain/Director, at the Absalom Jones Student Center & Chapel. Fr. Brian also previously served as Vicar at St. Timothy’s, also in the Diocese of Atlanta, before coming to Holy Cross. In May 2009, Fr. Brian was awarded the Doctor of Ministry degree, with an emphasis on Multiculturalism, from the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has brought to the parish a great deal of energy and dynamism, new and innovative ways of engaging ministry in the now, practicing both traditional and contemporary forms of the liturgy. Under his leadership, a new day has dawned at the Church of the Holy Cross.