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Former state chief justice to speak at church sesquicentennial
Jamil el-Shair
Rev. Dr. Jamil el-Shair

Midway First Presbyterian Church will hold its Sesquicentennial Church Anniversary on April 1, and the Rev. Dr. Jamil el-Shair and the congregation will welcome former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears as the keynote speaker.

Sears was appointed by Gov. Zell Miller in 1992, making her the first woman and the youngest person to sit on the Supreme Court of Georgia. Her father, the Rev. Thomas E. Sears, served as pastor of Midway First Presbyterian Church from 1989-1991.

Rev. Sears was a man of great insight and vision for church improvements. He was responsible for restoration of the historic church bell that rang throughout the Midway Community indicating the beginning of worship service. He is still fondly remembered and honored each Sunday by the church's Thomas E. Sears Gospel Choir.

The current pastor, El-Shair, is the first Doctor of Ministry graduate from South University, Savannah. He received his degree in 2016.

Active in the Midway Parish, El-Shair was recently recognized by the Georgia Historic Preservation Division (HPD) African American Programs for his involvement in the preservation of the 150-year-old Reconstruction-era church cemetery on Highway 17.

Also, as president of the Sankofa African American Heritage Trail of East Liberty County, he has joined with community stakeholders, including genealogist Rose Mullice, a member of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church; Elder Willie Washington, property manager of the church; and public historian and preservationist Hermina Glass-Hill, to document and tell the stories of the history of the Midway area, as well as encourage community stewardship of historic African American resources in need of restoration.

Pre-anniversary activities will begin at 7 p.m. March 31 at the church at 672 N. Coastal Highway in Midway and will include performances by several guest choirs, a mime worship ministry and praise dancers.

Anniversary services will begin promptly at 10 a.m. April 1 to commence a special dedication service and a keynote address by Leah Ward Sears.

Midway First Presbyterian Church’s 150th Anniversary is open to the community.

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