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New church aims to attract the 'unreachables'
Goose Cox, right, hugs Kenny Rice as Cox arrives for the first meeting of the Good Samaritan Baptist Church last Sunday. - photo by Tom Reed


Good Samaritan Baptist Church

When: 9 a.m. service, Wednesdays; 9 a.m. traditional service, 11 a.m. Unleashed service, Sundays

Where: 1220 McEver Road, Gainesville

More info: 678-725-0813



The Rev. Kenny Rice decided five years after "planting" Set Free Baptist Church in Dahlonega, it was time to create a church with the same rock ‘n' roll, biker feel in Gainesville.

With the help of the Chattahoochee Baptist Association, Good Samaritan Baptist Church was created and it had its first service last Sunday.

"I'm kind of a church starter; we were up there for five years and it was time to start another one," he said. "That was my seventh church, so that seems like what we do - start them up and then get another one going."

Set Free was known for its nontraditional meeting space in Dahlonega - an old converted chicken house.

Rice hopes that he can reach the unreachable in Gainesville.

"We had 40 people at our first service, and that was nice, so we'll just grow it from here. That was the first service, we may only have 25 or 30 this Sunday, I just don't know" Rice said. "The Chattahoochee Baptist Association has been praying for years to start a ministry like what I do, down here in Gainesville. Just reaching people that wouldn't normally go to church."

And the church won't just meet on Sundays, there are plans for Bible study in local apartment complexes along with a Wednesday morning service at the CBA headquarters.

"There are a lot of apartment complexes here in Gainesville, and we're going to be starting Bible studies in those complexes and then everyone come on Sunday together," he said. "Our mission is to mission all during the week, not just on Sunday.

"We are having a traditional Southern Baptist service at 9 a.m. on Sunday and then what we're having is the Good Samaritan Baptist Church ‘Unleashed' at 11 a.m. That will be more like I'm used to with the rock ‘n' roll music with the words changed.".

Currently Rice is looking for Christian musicians for the classic rock band during services at Good Samaritan.

Rice moved to Dahlonega with his wife, Judy, and son five years ago. Rice was born in Compton, Calif., in 1950 and saw hard times as problems began with drugs, alcohol and violence and an eventual prison sentence, he said in a 2007 interview.

In 1985, he became a Christian. He was ordained in 1992 by Set Free Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, Calif. Soon after, Rice was sent to Washington to begin new Set Free churches.

The outreach ministry to bikers and reaching the unchurched and unreachable is Rice's main emphasis as a self-proclaimed former "outlaw."

"My background is out of that environment," Rice said. "And it has always been on my heart to reach the unreachable, and outlaws are pretty much as close to unreachable that you can get."

He even has a bike shop in the works at his own home so local bikers can work on their bikes in a Christian environment.

"We are very excited (as well as) the people he is beginning to meet with," said Mike Taylor, a church start strategist with the CBA and pastor at West Side Baptist Church. "We are excited about Kenny working with a group of people that feel like they don't fit in a traditional church. He's gonna reach a group of people that aren't going to wear a coat and tie.

"They will have access to hope and coming to know the Lord."