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This church is moving 5 miles away to accommodate growing congregation
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The Rev. Rob Bruce of McEver Road United Methodist Church shows where the church is relocating. The new building will offer more space for its growing congregation and plans for the future. - photo by Austin Steele

McEver Road United Methodist Church is on the move.

The church at 3606 McEver Road in Oakwood voted Feb. 28, 2016, to sell its current property and look for something new, giving it an opportunity to expand in areas it needed. The property recently sold and about two weeks ago, the church secured a new plot of land at the corner of Gainesville Street and McEver Road in Flowery Branch — five miles south of where the church is now.

“It’s tough to sell a church,” the Rev. Rob Bruce said. “We’ve had some other offers, and for various other reasons either we didn’t take them, or they didn’t work out. This last one, it was perfect.”

The current property of McEver Road United Methodist Church was sold to a “well-known nonprofit” in the area that hasn’t been named yet, but Bruce is happy about the sale and is excited to potentially share the space as the church begins building at the new property.

“We started early on … talking about what we wanted in the building and our philosophy and things like that,” Bruce said. “But it kind of had to go on hold until we got property.”

The planning process hasn’t quite begun, but the 12 acres that were purchased will hopefully allow the church to add more adult education space, a more modern nursery, one worship area for its congregation and a multipurpose building.

Bruce said the old building is simply too small and doesn’t accommodate its 480 members. He said he thinks the people who built the church never thought it would grow to what it is now. But after expanding all it could — which included adding a new fellowship hall — a move was necessary.

“We want to be able to host, for example, after-school programs in the building, which we can’t do now,” Bruce said.

By moving farther south, the church will be in the middle of what it believes will be a much more developed area in the coming years. It’s also closer to schools.

“We expect (the move) to help us grow,” Bruce said. “We’re already growing, but we think we’ll grow faster because we’ll be in the middle of all this development.”

He said it’s not all about numbers, though. The church is focused on accomplishing its mission of creating community around what they believe in.

“The building we have right now just doesn’t lend itself to that,” Bruce said.

Although the short drive between the two properties won’t create much difference for the current congregation, it will hopefully bring in new members.

“It’s not a big difference, but the (new) property is not something where the church will be located largely out of sight,” said Debbie Durrence, chair of the leadership team at the church. “It’s property where the church will be easily visible from the road.”

That’s something she said the church currently has a problem with. It’s on a hill, and people driving by have a hard time seeing it. There’s also not a lot of parking and no room to add extra spaces.

“We think this is a much better opportunity for us, with opportunity to expand,” Durrence said. “We are completely landlocked right now.”

The rest of the members at the church saw the same thing. That’s why the church unanimously voted to approve the sale of the building and the purchase of the new property. It’s an issue Durrence said is typically difficult for churches, so it’s one they made after careful consideration.

“I think the need was very evident to everyone,” Durrence said. “Change is difficult, whether it’s good or bad. But there were lots of opportunities for thoughtful conversations for people to ask questions, to make sure we were being very thoughtful in the decisions that were being made.”

As for when the project will start or be complete, Bruce isn’t sure yet. But he is happy to see things getting underway.

“We’re really excited,” Bruce said. “God has been in this from the beginning … Having this kind of unity in the church is definitely a gift from God, because you don’t see it very often.”

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