Pastor of one of county’s largest churches is celebrating a milestone anniversary
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When Pastor Johnny Moore preached his first sermon as leader of Family Worship Center 25 years ago, there were 14 people on hand to hear his message. In the last quarter century, that number has grown by leaps and bounds to a congregation of more than 900.
This Sunday, the silver anniversary of “Pastor Johnny” and his wife, Dianne, coming to Family Worship Center Church of God will be celebrated with a special Pastor Appreciation Sunday, and the community is invited.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years. It’s gone by so fast,” says Moore. “In the beginning, we started out with a vision of what we felt like God wanted to happen here, and we’ve done our best to try to stay with that vision.”
Back when Moore was a teenager, it looked like he was taking a very different path. After graduating from Cairo High School in 1979, Moore worked in the family glass shop in Cairo and sang gospel part-time with high school friends in a group, “His Glory.” In July 1980, though, he was arrested on a drug charge and sentenced to serve three years. Moore says on Nov. 20, 1980, Judge A. Wallace Cato came to see him in the Grady County jail and changed the sentence to probation.
“It was like a miracle,” Moore recalls now. “I realized my life has got to change. When I got out of jail, I never looked back.” The story seemed to impress “The 700 Club,” which Moore recalls featured a reenactment of his experience on its show.
Moore says His Glory began to sing full-time then and traveled the country. It was while singing at a Church of God in Ocala, Fla., that he met the woman who would become his wife, Dianne McCafferty. When His Glory broke up, Moore continued to travel and sing, this time with Dianne and her sister, Carolyn. By 1988, Dianne and Johnny married and settled in Cairo where he participated in a ministerial internship program at Cairo Church of God. In July 1989, the couple moved to Dianne’s home church, Ocala Church of God. They stayed there until July 1994, and during that time, Moore served three years as youth pastor and nearly three years as director of ministries and associate pastor.
In the meantime, some members of His Glory had become disenchanted with traditional church settings, according to Moore, and decided to hold their own worship services. The first meeting took place in the home of Moore’s parents, Greta and the late Herman Moore. Eventually, the group outgrew the house and rented a building on First Avenue, then later moved to what was the former Citizens Bank on U.S. 84, a building that has recently been demolished to make way for a new Maryland’s Fried Chicken. Organized as Victory Baptist Church, the church purchased property on South Broad Street, and underwent the leadership of a few pastors. When an interim pastor resigned in 1994, the congregation called Johnny Moore. “We felt like God was going to send us back to Cairo eventually,” Moore says.
He says the church leaders voted unanimously to dissolve Victory Baptist and reorganize as Family Worship Center Church of God. “I never dreamed it would happen this way. It was just meant to be,” Moore says.
By 1997, his church had outgrown its 120-capacity sanctuary. “We added onto that building and doubled it in size,” describes Moore. The church also built a Christian Education building. As they outgrew that facility, the church expanded to two services on Sundays.
In 2002, Moore enrolled in the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tenn., commuting each week for classes, and earning his Master of Arts degree in Ministry Leadership in 2005.
In 2007, the church applied for and received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build The Haven on Broad, apartments for senior adults. A second $1.5 million H.U.D. grant in 2009 allowed the church to expand the complex to a total of 31 apartments.
In 2009, the church purchased the property on U.S. 84 where it is currently located, and for the next two years held services in the auditorium of Cairo High School. Finally, in 2011, the church moved into its current facility, but that is not where the evolution of the church ends.
Moore says in January 2020, Family Worship Center will cut a ribbon on its renovated upstairs space, which will provide an additional 8,000 square feet for a state-of-the-art children’s and youth ministry. “Nothing like this has ever been done like this in this county,” Moore says with excitement.
Moore describes Family Worship Center as a Pentecostal mission driven church that worships with enthusiasm and includes a multi-cultural membership. “Family Worship Center is a reflection of what you see in the community, not one particular group of people,” Moore describes and says he believes in building teams and developing leaders within the church. Growth in the church, he says, has mainly come from people who were without a church home before.
“We’ve always wanted FWC to be a church that loves its community, cares and feeds people and they see their lives change. It’s about making a difference,” Moore describes.
Reflecting on his years here as a pastor, Moore says moving to the current location was a major milestone. “It was like a dream come true. There’s not a building like it in Cairo, and that was one of the toughest times of the recession. God brought us through that, it’s amazing,” he says. In addition, building the apartments was a favorite goal realized. Perhaps his proudest accomplishment, though, is having his family take part in the church through the years.
As Moore celebrates his 58th birthday Sunday, in addition to Pastor Appreciation Day, he will be surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren. Anna, 22, a senior at Lee University, will be on hand, in addition to his sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Josh, 27, his wife, Hannah, and their son Jude, and Jonathan, 25, his wife, Ashley, and their daughter Abigail, will all be in attendance. “This has been as much their life as it has been ours,” the pastor says. Josh Moore serves as worship pastor for his father, and Jonathan Moore plays drums in the band and helps lead small groups.
In addition to his work with FWC, Moore serves as chaplain for the Grady County Sheriff’s Office, Cairo Police Department, and Cairo Fire Department. He invests in the lives of new pastors and pastors’ wives by being involved in the Ministerial Internship Program for the South Georgia Church of God. Also, he is the founder and author of Rural Pastor (ruralpastor.com), a leadership resource development company and blog for pastors and lay leaders ministering in rural America.
Dianne Moore is equally passionate about the community by supporting her husband in his efforts in addition to her own ministry involvement at Family Worship Center. She is a leader in the FWC Connect Group Ministry, sings on the Praise Team and in the sanctuary choir, is involved in teaching, counseling, and is the pastor’s secretary.
The community is invited to help celebrate the Moores’ 25 years of ministry Sunday, Sept. 15, at 8:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. at 1760 Hwy 84 West, Cairo. For both services, by Pastor Johnny’s special request, his children will be speaking and reminiscing on the past 25 years of their family’s ministry in Cairo. His mother, Greta Moore, a charter member of the church, will also be in attendance.