What started out as a way to make room for its growing congregation, Christ Place Church, formerly Blackshear Place Baptist Church, began building a new worship center on its property. Now, the project just over two years in the making, is nearly complete.
Where: Christ Place Church, 3428 Atlanta Highway, Flowery Branch
When: Services at 9:15 and 11 a.m., block party at 5 p.m.
How much: Free
The Flowery Branch church off Atlanta Highway near Interstate 985 will hold its first Sunday services in the new worship center at 9:15 and 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 16. In the old space, the church was forced to break into three services, working with outdated equipment, to serve its more than 8,000 members.
“The vision, really, was taking the hope of the gospel to the community,” said Stephen Odum, creative director at Christ Place. “We wanted to provide a larger space to reach our growing region for the gospel. We’ve been a church for about 63 years. We’ve been on this corner and we want to be a light for our community.”
Odum said the church has prepared members for the coming changes for a while. The entrances and parking will be a little different and with “new language” to help people get around the campus.
The “modern, state-of-the-art” building includes 78,000 square feet of new construction. After walking into the new lobby and making their way through the freshly painted corridors, church members and guests will see a new, large, coffee shop and cafe to their left and a guest services room, outfitted with comfortable chairs and a fireplace, to the right.
There’s also a merchandise store selling coffee mugs, hats, polo shirts and more. On the lower level of the building are a new choir room and small group rooms. Most importantly, the new building includes a 2,000-seat worship center.
“We are so blessed, so excited,” Odum said. “It’s going to be a great tool to share with our community. To have our services, to have our congregation together in a bigger room and to be able to worship with one another, we are super excited about being able to move into the new room.”
The worship center offers theater seating, all on flat ground with raked seating on the sides. There’s no balcony in the new space as in the old. On the wall just above the stage are 80 feet of LED screens displaying video of the services for anyone with any sort of vision impairment.
“Pastor (Jeff Crook), he preaches and has a lot of facial expressions and we want people to be able to engage with him as he teaches the word of God,” Odum said. “We want them to be able to connect with him visually. So we’ll be able to do that with the new screens and cameras that are there.”
The sound equipment and lights have been updated with about 80 moving lights and sound Odum said will be “tour quality.”
One of the traditions Christ Place isn’t letting go of is its choir, which will still be on stage joining the band during worship.
“It’s just our own, unique worship style,” Odum said. “We’re trying to find our own selves. A lot of folks are trying out different things and we have our own people and gift sets of talented artists or worship styles, so we’re going to be ourselves.”
The original cost of the project was estimated at $18.2 million, funded by a pledge campaign organized by the church’s finance team.
Later Sunday, the church will be host to an Atlanta Highway Block Party to give people in the community who aren’t members a chance to see everything that has happened since construction began.
Starting at 5 p.m., free T-shirts will be given out and guests can grab dinner from six food trucks. Children can enjoy inflatables while older kids and adults can play yard games. The night will end with a fireworks show.
“I know the community has been watching it go up for a few years now and they are probably curious as to what this thing is about,” Odum said.
The final touch to the new construction that Odum said is coming in the next few weeks is an 80-foot, metal, illuminated cross near the front doors of the worship center. As passers-by travel on I-985, they won’t be able to miss it.
“It will be a piece that is shining the light of Jesus to all of our community,” Odum said.