The South Hall church scene is making moves.
The myriad churches throughout Hall County, and really the entire South, are part of an ever-changing tapestry. And two local churches are becoming part of that change.
The Vine Church, which also has a campus in Hoschton, is adding on to its Flowery Branch campus, and Fusion Church in Buford is moving a mile down the road to a permanent space and changing its name.
Fusion Church will soon be called Lanier Point Church.
And not only is it changing its name, it’s getting a new face as it moves to the old New Bethany Baptist Church location on Lanier Islands Parkway.
“We're having one last service as Fusion this Sunday, and then we're moving everything Sunday afternoon and our first service in the new building will be Dec. 15 and that's when we'll be Lanier Point Church,” said the Rev. Tony McCollum, lead pastor at the church.
The church started off in a movie theater, then moved to a high school and has been held in a retail space for the last 10 years. McCollum said he’s happy to finally have a space the church can call its own.
“We're very excited to have a permanent home for ourselves,” McCollum said. “Really we're excited about continuing the legacy of this property and how God's used it in the past.”
McCollum said New Bethany Baptist Church was founded in 1875 and built its church in 1878.
Since then, the building has had a rich history as other churches have moved in and out, but it has been vacant for the past few years.
“Everybody and their brother has had some sort of connection to this property in the area,” McCollum said. “People tell me, ‘I've got somebody buried there,’ or, ‘My grandparents used to go there,’ or, ‘People I know got married there.’ We get it, that this is a special place and we just kind of want to honor the legacy of this place and do right by the people who built this place.”
For now, McCollum said the old sanctuary will be called the chapel. He’s hoping to slowly restore it and be able to use it in the future. For the time being, the auditorium that was part of a three-story addition in the 1980s will be used as the sanctuary, and a separate addition that was used as an educational wing in the past will be restored and revamped as a preschool area.
Making this all happen wasn’t an easy road, but at the end of it all, it seemed like it was meant to be.
“This building was up for sale for the past few years and every time we'd hear about it, we would hear that somebody else had just bought it or put a contract on it,” McCollum said. “We were always just missing out on it. But for whatever reason, those fell through and the timing just worked out.”
It was the perfect timing for a name change, too. McCollum said they’d been thinking about changing the name for a while and now seemed like the best time to make it happen. They were deciding whether to keep the Fusion Church name or change it to Bethany Point Church, Hope Point Church or Lanier Point Church.
“I have four kids and it was easier naming my kids than it was naming a church,” McCollum said, laughing. “It's hard picking a name and we wrestled with it a little bit.”
They finally decided on Lanier Point because of the church’s proximity to Lake Lanier.
Even though the church has a new name and is no longer Fusion Church, or even New Bethany Baptist for that matter, McCollum said he hopes to honor the history that’s been made in the church by continuing to build on it with Lanier Point.
“We feel like we're walking on holy ground here and we need to do right by them,” McCollum said. “A lot of lives have been changed here over many, many years and we just kind of want to continue that … We just kind of feel like maybe we're picking up the baton a little bit from those who went before us.”
The Vine Church
The Vine Church has been in its Flowery Branch location for more than 4 years, and the Rev. Andrew Erwin said since the beginning, he knew it needed more space for two critical areas.
“We're building a new building that's going to house a brand-new lobby area and it's going to house a brand new children's ministry space, and then we're expanding our parking lot as well,” said Erwin, lead pastor at the church.
The new building will connect to the current building and add plenty of additional space to get the children out of the trailers — where they’re currently meeting — behind the church and into a more useful environment.
Construction on the outside of the new building is finishing up, so the inside is next. Erwin said he’s hoping for a grand opening in March.
“We felt like the Lord kind of gave us a press that this was the right time to move into this season of expansion and building,” he said.
After a 14-month capital campaign to raise the money for the $1.1 million expansion, Erwin said he was happy and proud of the members at The Vine Church. They were able to raise $410,000 as a church, and the rest will be financed.
“It was above and beyond,” Erwin said. “We challenged them for a 14-month period to continue giving what they normally give, continue tithing, but to also give what they could sacrificially to the effort of making disciples … which is our church's mission.”
That mission is a key reason why the expansion off Spout Springs Road was necessary.
“Our church's heart has always been making disciples, making disciples,” Erwin said. “In fact, our mantra is, ‘One ‘til everyone.’ And so the idea is we want to have a space where we can tell one person at a time just how loved they really are.”
And with the bigger space and additional parking for those wanting to visit, The Vine Church will be able to do just that.
“We're excited about the expansion project and the opportunity to go into 2020 with more space to house more kids and park more people,” Erwin said.