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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints close to opening South Hall site

POSTED: June 23, 2009 10:56 p.m.

A new church in South Hall

Take a look inside South Hall's new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is mostly finished and could open for worshippers over the summer.

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George Wangemann, counselor in the mission presidency of the Georgia Atlanta North Mission, stands inside the chapel or sanctuary inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Flowery Branch.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — Down to a final "punch list" of construction details, South Hall’s new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is getting ready to open.

But aside from a spot of paint here and there, church leaders are set to meet Sunday morning in Suwanee to settle some final issues concerning the new church, including setting up attendance boundary lines for a new "ward," or congregation.

"All the details will come out at the meeting, even as to when the building will be officially opened up," said George Wangemann, a Gainesville Ward member and counselor in the mission presidency of the Georgia Atlanta North Mission. "My best guess is probably sometime in July."

"The building is probably 99.8 percent completed," he said. "If you drove through the parking lot, you’d probably think this building is ready to go."

An open house is set for Sept. 12 at the new church, which is off Cash Road, a couple of miles off Hog Mountain Road.

"We hope to have some other Christian church choirs participating with us (in the event)," said Wangemann. "I’m working on that right now."

The church was supposed to open April 3, but the project was delayed because workers found a boulder that had "to be blasted away," Wangemann said.

"It was very costly, as well," he added.

A Gainesville city councilman, Wangemann has spent much of the past year or so in Flowery Branch and surrounding community gearing up for the church opening, including helping in area cleanup efforts.

He provided a sneak peak of the building Tuesday morning.

The church, like most in the Mormon tradition, features a sanctuary, or chapel, at the front and center of the building, with classrooms and offices flanking it on either side.

Just off the sanctuary is the church’s "cultural hall," a gymnasium that serves also for social events and overflow from the chapel. It also features a baptism pool.

Wangemann estimates the building houses about 20,000 square of space and cost about $4 million to build, based on what he knows about the church’s stake center in Suwanee. A stake is a group of wards or smaller congregations known as branches.

The church’s minister, or bishop, hasn’t been named yet, but Wangemann said that also could be announced Sunday.

The church can house up to three wards, but will feature one to begin with, plus an Hispanic branch, Wangemann said.

"It will serve about 500 to 600 initially," Wangemann said. "Certainly, we hope to grow, and we grow by dividing. We don’t keep getting bigger and bigger and then have to build another building. When we get to a certain point in membership, we simply divide the ward in half and create two wards out of one."

Growth helped drive the effort to build the new church.

"A study was done and it was determined, based on where the membership lived and where members were moving to, that this would be an ideal location of the next building," Wangemann said.

During the tour, a couple attending the Gainesville church, Kip and Rosie Kirby, stopped by to check on progress.

"We’ve been watching it from the ground up," Kip Kirby said.

"I was thinking a little while ago that (the) Gainesville (church) needs to do a little remodeling," said his wife, adding a chuckle. "This (building) is really, really great."



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