Our History, God's Story

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory,  for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

After recognizing the need for a church in Northwest Albany, a group of men and women met together and established the First Baptist Church Mission. The group began meeting in the US Army Reserve Building for Sunday School in 1955. A year later, Mr. J. T. Haley gave them 6.3 acres of land on Whispering Pines Road in the Sherwood Acres Subdivision. By February of that year, 309 charter members had enrolled, and the Mallary Baptist Association received the group in October. Thus, Sherwood Baptist Church was born.

Sherwood’s first pastor was Albert Cardwell. During his seven years as pastor, Dr. Cardwell saw continued growth through an expanded Sunday School and the construction of a 750-seat educational building in 1958. This education space quickly doubled in capacity with further construction efforts. Sherwood sponsored their own mission in 1961, forming Radium Springs Baptist Church in East Albany.


In 1968, the congregation called Curtis Burge as pastor. He headed the “Together We Build” campaign in 1973 to provide a 1,000-seat sanctuary, including a bell tower, library, bridal and music suites, pipe organ, adult Sunday School department, and all the furnishings and equipment. The building program cost $1,386,745 and was completed by February of 1976.


During W. A. “Billy” Smith’s pastorate, from 1979 to 1988, Sherwood was honored as having the fastest growing Sunday School in Georgia. After several years of radio broadcasting, Sherwood aired its first video broadcast on cable Channel 8 in 1982. The following year, the church completed a building program with the dedication of the Family Life Center—a $1.2 million facility. Due to the generous outpouring of support by Sherwood’s membership, the congregation burned the note for the project in 1984. Sherwood further expanded its ministry in 1985 when the church announced the opening of Sherwood Baptist Christian School, offering education for grades K-3 through eighth. Over $100,000 was raised in one month for the $400,000 property.

Since the 1980s, Sherwood has consistently been the leader in the Mallary Association in missions giving, Cooperative Program giving, and baptisms. It is the largest church in the region and one of the largest churches in Georgia, south of Macon. Sherwood has consistently been in the top one percent of Georgia churches in baptisms and missions giving. In 2009, Sherwood was recognized as the 45th church in the entire Southern Baptist Convention in missions giving (out of 45,000 churches). 

In 1989, Michael Catt began his ministry at Sherwood. He introduced “The Decade of Destiny” to carry the church into the 21st century. This plan included a Christian Life Ministry Team, ministry to widows, training for decisions counselors, an Intercessory Prayer Ministry, and a Long Range Planning Committee. Sherwood built a prayer chapel in April of 1991, and within eight months, 605 prayer warriors were using the facility and had completed 3,473 hours of prayer. Other new areas of ministry opened up during this time, including an expanded Media Ministry and the Alpha Crisis Pregnancy Center.


In 1991, Church Growth Today recognized Sherwood as one of the 210 fasted growing churches in North America in worship attendance. This commendation placed Sherwood in the top one percent of more than 400,000 churches that reported a gain of one hundred or more people. This consistent growth led to the formation of support groups to provide godly counsel in crises, and dual Sunday School classes began in 1992. Sherwood’s cable Channel 51 became an affiliate of Family Net, bringing increased programming and heightened audience appeal. Sherwood Baptist Christian School became Sherwood Christian Academy and offered classes through the twelfth grade. With the purchase of the Riverview Academy property in 1994, the middle and high schools moved to Old Pretoria Road where the facilities included a cafeteria, library, auditorium, gymnasium, and sports stadium.

When the Flood of 1994 hit Albany and Southwest Georgia, Sherwood opened its doors immediately to house, clothe, and feed evacuees and to coordinate volunteers from across the country. The church also expanded the Children’s and Recreation Ministries. In February of 1998, the pastor called the membership to forty days of prayer. Later that year, the pastor, staff, and deacons unanimously recommended a Master Growth Plan that included a 2,250-seat Worship Center and 300-seat Chapel to provide space for “Future Generations.” Sherwood celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony in May of the following year. In the midst of the new building campaign in 2000, Sherwood held Easter services in the partially built facilities with nearly 3,000 in attendance and 36 professions of faith. 


In 1999, the Strauss House opened across the street from the church as a place of relaxation and refreshment for pastors, speakers, and musicians. The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Extension Center opened its doors in 2000 to offer graduate classes for students in Albany and surrounding Communities. For several years the Sherwood family hosted The Prayer Blitz and called every person in the phone book (10,000 plus families) to pray for them. In 2001, the congregation moved into the new Worship Center.


Another major production debuted in 2003 as Sherwood Pictures produced their first major motion picture, Flywheel. Since its humble beginnings, Sherwood Pictures has released three more box office hits—Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous—and continues to impact the world through film. The films are in over a dozen languages and have been seen in 75 countries around the world. Missions organizations, pastors, and believers around the globe have used these films for outreach. 

As another avenue of outreach and ministry, Sherwood opened the Havner House as a home for missionary families who are stateside on furlough. Pastor Michael Catt also introduced two new conferences. Bridge Builders, with Dr. Warren Wiersbe, offered leadership training for pastors. ReFRESH® began as a conference for God’s people seeking revival. In the first year, fifty people were baptized following the conference. Since that time, ReFRESH® has grown to two conferences a year, one in Albany, and one in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In 2011, ReFRESH® expanded even further by offering a conference for the International Mission Board staff and trustees in Richmond, Virginia.

2004 was a big year for Sherwood. It began with the church celebrating Pastor Michael Catt’s 1,000th sermon. Sherwood also introduced a campaign called “Generations” to pay down the debt and build a Sports Park on Old Pretoria Road. The church broke ground on the Sports Park, and work began to build ball fields to reach future generations and their families. In 2005, Sherwood renamed the FLC by opening the Recreational Outreach Center (ROC) and increased sports involvement by 95%. The church purchased an additional forty acres of land on Old Pretoria Road and enlarged the vision of the Sports Park even further. Sherwood hosted the first annual Freedom Festival on the SCA campus in July, and the event now draws over 8,000 people to the complex each Fourth of July.

In 2009, Sherwood saw even more incredible blessings from the Lord. In August, the Pastor and the Dream Team shared what God was doing because of the faithfulness of our people and the impact of Sherwood Pictures. We were able to pay off the debt 11 years ahead of schedule, saving millions of dollars in interest. In addition, we began exciting new initiatives: investing in church planting in San Francisco and Baltimore; completing the Sports Park to reach this community through recreation (baseball/softball complex, soccer fields, the 110-foot tall cross, a fully equipped pavilion, paved parking areas, and more); building a $1.3 million field house for joint use by SCA and the Sports and Recreation Ministry; purchasing two new road buses; investing in the Lord’s Pantry and the Anchorage; expanding the Alpha Center; renovating the Fellowship Hall and upgrading the Worship Center. In December, the church celebrated the Catt family’s 20th anniversary at Sherwood. Now in his 23rd year of ministry to this congregation, Michael has taught us to dream big and believe God for the impossible. He has authored eight books since 1989, and we’ve experienced remarkable growth and maturity under Michael’s leadership, including over 2,400 baptisms and over 3,000 new members. 


In 2010, Sherwood officially opened the Sports Park, renaming it “Legacy Park: A Ministry of Leading People to the Cross.” We have watched the Lord transform acres of pecan trees into a place of incredible ministry opportunity. The Sherwood family continues to impact this community with the gospel by creating a loving, family-friendly environment for sports and recreational activities. In 2011, we launched a six-month capital campaign, “Bridging Generations: Preparing for Our next Step of Faith,” with a goal of $380,000. To date, over $400,000 has been given. The monies are allowing us to construct and pave additional parking spaces around the library. We also hired a master planner to assist the pastor and the Dream Team with long-range planning, and we added additional lighting in the Worship Center mezzanines and balcony to adequately handle increased attendance in worship. As the Lord continues to bless this congregation, we have sought to take what He gives and use it to be a blessing to others. Recently we were able to give $100,000 each to Life Action Ministries’ One Cry initiative, the International Mission Board, and With Open Eyes. Sherwood is also supporting families and their mission work here in the United States and around the world. In 2010, Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated donated their entire 60,000 square foot Albany Distribution Plant to Sherwood. This will be a spring board for local missions. The Lord continues to expand our borders missionaly, with the generous gift of the Coke plant and our expanded overseas missions involvement in recent years. 

By His grace, God has transformed Sherwood from a neighborhood church to a regional church, reaching people each week from at least five surrounding counties. Beyond our greatest thoughts or imaginations, the Lord has truly enabled us to reach the world from Albany, Georgia. We believe that whoever wants the next generation the most will get them. We believe the message of the gospel is the hope for the world…and for Albany, Georgia. We are committed to getting our hands dirty and meeting the needs around us, while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and following God wherever He may lead.