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The main campus of Penfield Addiction Ministries is located on grounds that is rich in Baptist heritage. The main campus property is also the original Mercer University Campus property located in the Penfield Community in Greene County Georgia. Mercer University was founded in Penfield Georgia, as a boys’ preparatory school1. The school opened as Mercer Institute with 39 students on January 14, 1833, and was named for Jesse Mercer who was a prominent Baptist leader who provided a founding endowment and who served as the first chairman of the board of trustees. The Georgia General Assembly granted a university charter in December 1837. Mercer adopted its present name in 1838 and graduated its first university class of three students in 1841. In 1871, Mercer moved to Macon, a better location and center of transportation and commerce in Georgia. After this move, the property was eventually transferred to the Georgia Baptist Association (a different organization than the Georgia Baptist Mission Board), then to Penfield Baptist Church and then back to Mercer University in 1983.
Penfield Addiction Ministries is proud of this historic connection with Mercer, its association with the Georgia Baptist Association, Penfield Baptist Church and its perpetuation of Baptist missions, education, and benevolence. Penfield’s ministry of “Reclaiming Alcohol and Drug addicted Men and Women through Christ and Christian Love” began on January 2, 1979, as a ministry sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Association in Washington, Georgia. Approximately five years of preparation were undertaken prior to its beginning. The initial program consisted of an eight-week program for men that was based primarily upon the teaching and memorization of scripture and was offered at no cost. Penfield is deeply indebted to the Georgia Baptist Association and the Rev. Charles and Viola Herring (first program director and his wife) for their faithfulness, determination, and dedication for the beginning of our agency. Without their hard work and faithfulness, there would be no program today. There are countless individuals and family members whose lives have been forever changed to the better by being able to live a life without addiction. This is all due to the early efforts of these mentioned.
The Georgia Baptist Convention operated the program from July 1, 1985, until January 1, 1991. The program’s first expansion was in June 1985, when the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention joined with the Georgia Baptist Association in cooperative sponsorship. The Board of Trustees was expanded from nine to thirty members from across Georgia. At that time, the program director and assistant program director were on the staff of the Associational Missions Ministries of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
In January of 2004, Penfield broke ground on a twenty-five-bed expansion at the main facility increasing the capacity to fifty beds. Much needed office space, as well as a full-size gymnasium, was also added in this expansion. The building was completed on January 4, 2005. Today, the main campus provides a six-week short-term residential intensive treatment program.
The campus in Alapaha, GA opened in January 2009. This campus was the result of the purchase of a former church property by Penfield. The generous donation from the estate of an alumnus allowed Penfield to pay off the debt owed on that property in January 2017. This campus today provides long term services both for residential intensive treatment and residential transitional treatment clients.
Heart Ministries became a part of Penfield through a non-profit merger on December 31, 2012. Originally named H.E.A.R.T. Ministries, the anacronym represented “A Healing Environment for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Recovery and Training”. Heart Ministries began when in 1995, the Mauldin brothers of Lavonia, GA dreamed of a Christian program to help addicted women. They donated 35 acres and a small house. First Baptist Church of Lavonia also played an important leadership role in the formation and support of HEART. By November 1998, the Tugalo Baptist Association was ready to begin H.E.A.R.T Ministry, Inc. HEART was started as an 8-week, 12 step alcohol and drug recovery program for ladies 18 years and older with a capacity of 27 beds. Today, the Lavonia campus for provides a six-week and long-term residential intensive treatment program for women.