Pastors Horace and Kiwanis Hockett
Bishop Horace E. Hockett believes in preaching the Word and making it plain, which is what the Lord told him to do when He called him to start Born Again Church in 1978. Since that time, Bishop Hockett has been diligently pursuing the vision God gave him to establish a “full-service church” that would reach out in faith and love, offering hope to everyone who comes into contact with the ministry.
Bishop Hockett and his wife Kiwanis, who serves as Associate Pastor, started Born Again Church with just eight members. Today, the church has grown into a vibrant diverse congregation, with outreach ministries to local prisons, hospitals, and neighborhoods. Additionally, BAC offers ministries for children and youth, strong men’s and women’s programs, a premier Christian school (Born Again Christian Academy), and many other programs.
Realizing the powerful influence of television and theater, Bishop Hockett, a talented playwright, and set designer, founded the Living Parables ministry. One of the church’s major evangelistic vehicles. He notes that “Presenting the truth of the gospel in the form of a play is a relevant, non-threatening means of reaching those who might not know Christ.”
An anointed preacher and gifted teacher, Bishop Hockett is increasingly sought out by other ministers and pastors as a mentor and counselor. He serves as overseer of Kingdom Builders Network, an affiliation of 20 churches and ministries in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, that is committed to working together to build God’s kingdom in the earth.
Elder Kiwanis Hockett (“Sister Kitty”), is a committed and compassionate counselor, mentor and spiritual mother to many. She has served the ministry since its inception in various capacities, including Executive Director and overseeing worship arts and women’s ministry.
Her heart for young people and women is clearly evident. In 1982, she founded the women’s ministry, Fashioned in His Image (FIHI), out of her desire to meet the needs of women within and outside of the church by ministering to the whole woman: spirit, soul and body. The organization provides outreach programs and services to thousands of women and families each year.
The Hockett’s have two sons: Horace II (Chip) and Brian, their wives, LaTonya and Rachel and grandchildren Olivia and Briley. Both of their sons and daughters-in-love are actively involved in serving the church. For these pastors, a strong family is one of the most important and significant aspects to building strong believers, churches and communities. Their ultimate goal is to see the Kingdom of God manifested in the earth.
The story of Born Again Church began in 1978 when the Lord called a young minister, Horace E. Hockett, his wife, Kiwanis and their two young sons to leave North Carolina where he had moved after college. The Father led him to return to his hometown of Nashville, TN to start a church. The vision of a church that would manifest God’s glory, power and purpose was birthed in Elder Hockett’s spirit as the Lord revealed His Plan to him in several dreams instructing him to deliver His Word and, “just make it plain.”
In August 1978, BAC held its first service in the living room of Sis Kiwanis’ parents, Elder Fred and Mother Fannie Waters, with eight members in attendance. Drawing upon his background in teaching theatrical arts, Elder Hockett utilized drama and vivid illustrations, with clear teaching and preaching, to bring the Word to life with refreshing clarity. This style of ministering would evolve into the unique ministry that is now Born Again Church.
In 1979, Elder Horace and his twin brother, Elder Harold (the current Assistant Pastor), were ordained. By the winter of that year, the church membership had outgrown the Waters’ living room, requiring the congregation to move to a small church building on Lillian Street in East Nashville.
Soon after, Pastor Hockett had a dream concerning separation from the church organization to which BAC was affiliated. In the dream, he saw a small puppy struggling under the weight of a heavy leash when a hand appeared and cut the restraint. Immediately, the freed puppy began to run. As he ran, he grew larger and larger becoming a beautiful creature.
BAC became independent in 1983. During that year the 80 plus members moved into a church building on Charlotte Avenue. The growth in membership accelerated so rapidly that the building could no longer hold the congregation. In 1989, the church began holding Sunday services at Pearl-Cohn High School. Within two years, the 500-seat auditorium had reached capacity. In addition, Children’s Church, held in the school’s cafeteria, was averaging more than 100 children each Sunday.
The dream of the growing puppy was being fulfilled.
In August 1992, construction got underway on the present BAC facility; including an 800-seat sanctuary/theater, administrative education building, and fellowship hall. This Phase (I) of the Master Plan, was dedicated in 1993. Phase II, completed in 1998, added another wing of classrooms, offices and a smaller fellowship hall. The beautiful facility housing the Little Saints Comprehensive Learning Center (preschool) and Born Again Christian Academy (K-4th) was also constructed at the time and has become a premier Christian school, offering families affordable, quality, faith-based education.
The vision will ultimately include a sanctuary with a revolving stage that will be used to enhance the visual experience of sermons as well as productions of the Living Parables Ministry. The long-range plan features a retirement center, a family life center, a Youth center, Total Women’s and Total Men’s centers as well as a Christian K-12 school.
Meanwhile, as we joyfully look forward to the full manifestation of the vision, we will continue to serve people through the many and varied ministries of the church. The intentions of God continues to expand. In 2001, the BAC family enlarged with the birth of the Kingdom Builders Network, an association of churches established under the leadership of BAC and Pastor Hockett to provide a community of fellowship and mutual support. In 2008, BAC embraced God’s grace for a new level of effectiveness in the Kingdom as Pastor Hockett was consecrated Bishop and became overseer of the Kingdom Builders Network, now consisting of 20 churches and ministries.
Worship through music and the arts has drawn thousands to BAC where they have received healing for their spirit, soul and body. It’s the spirit of excellence in ministry that has led many of the music industry’s biggest artists, from Amy Grant and Travis Tritt to Donnie McClurkin and former BAC member CeCe Winans, to have this wonderful choir back them on their recordings. After almost two decades of ministering to thousands in the background, the choir produced their debut recording project “CeCe Winans presents The Born Again Church Choir” on Pure Springs Gospel/EMI Gospel Music. The project won a Dove Award and Grammy nomination for the Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album in 2004 and a Stellar Award in 2005.
The next generation is of vital importance to the BAC vision. In 2015, FIHI launched the Zero to 40 movement out of a need to offer boys and young men and opportunity for education, support and mentorship.
Born Again Church has continued to be a beacon of light for its church family, community and the world. The Missions Ministry has traveled to Jamaica and Japan to spread the gospel, offer medical supplies and education to those in need and help create resources for underprivileged families. In 2016 FIHI partnered with the Catholic Charities of Flint, MI and Christi Cookies on a mission trip to deliver 75,000 bottles of water to communities in need during the Flint Water Crisis. The goal of BAC to have a presence in the community is one of the foundational pillars, not only for spiritual guidance and support, but for involvement in the development in the area. BAC hosted a community planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborated on a vision for development. Over 200 community leaders and residents came together at BAC to understand the issues and opportunities in the area and to develop a vision for the future.
Through a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health, the staff at Born Again and FIHI partnered to educate over 1,200 students in Abstinence and Healthy Lifestyles. Additionally, in 2017 the E3 experience, a time of worship, prayer and praise was created for those 18-37.
Being central elements of ministering the word of God at BAC, the performing arts have proven to be a unique and effective form of outreach. Living Parables is known locally, nationally, and internationally for consistently producing plays and creative presentations of artistic and technical excellence. They reach out to the community as well as the congregation with unique and inspired dramatic presentations designed to present spiritual truths in a dynamic and compelling manner. In the summer of 2019, living parables will also launch the Northside Theatrical Conservatory, a performing arts school for students ages 10-17.
The women of BAC were a part of a consortium of five churches to host “Ladies loving Nashville.” The mission of the movement was to help serve the needs of under-resourced women here in the city, letting them know they are loved and valued.
BAC has adopted the Maplewood High School football team, serving lunch and offering weekly prayer and support during their season. The men of BAC offer mentorship and guidance for these young athletes as well.
Moving forward with an assurance that God has a remarkable plan for this community of believers, Born Again Church strives towards the God-sized vision to reach the world for Jesus Christ through various vehicles. By His grace, this is exactly what we will accomplish.