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Free Chapel to add small chapel, wedding terrace and outdoor amphitheater on property
Main campus building to undergo a few renovations
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Construction is underway Thursday for a chapel that will seat 300 people and an amphitheater that will hold more than 1,500 people beside Free Chapel’s main campus in Gainesville. The property will also contain a reflection pool with an outdoor baptistry, a landscaped prayer walk, a wedding and hospitality terrace and a reception area. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Free Chapel

Worship service times: 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesdays

Address: 3001 McEver Road, Gainesville

Phone number: 678-677-8300

Website: www.freechapel.org/gainesville

Free Chapel believes in making memories for its congregation and the community.

And now the nondenominational church will have more places and spaces for people to make memories.

The church is expand its facility by adding a chapel, wedding terrace and outdoor amphitheater to its 145-acre campus, to name a few.

‘We’ve always had a master plan,” Free Chapel pastor Jentzen Franklin said. “The timing feels right and we have a real need.”

Construction crews already are conducting site work at the campus off McEver Road in Gainesville. Additions include: a 300-seat chapel, a 1,500-seat amphitheater, a wedding terrace with covered pavilion, a reception area, a reflection pool with an outdoor baptistry and water feature, a landscaped prayer walk and a hospitality terrace.

Franklin added the amphitheater will have concrete as well as grassy areas layered to allow for concerts and picnic-style events.

“It’s going to be a terraced effect,” he said. “It will be beautiful place for people to come and eat. It’s a place where we can have outreach to the community.”

The additions are not the only part of the master plan. Upgrades are planned for the 157,000-square-foot main building.

“We’re renovating the building we have,” Franklin said, adding the main campus facility is 17 years old. “We are going to upgrade it — outside and inside.”

Renovations include new carpet inside as well as exterior work.

“And we will have a new connection lounge (where) people new to the church can come and get know each other,” Franklin said.

But the 1,600-member congregation across Free Chapel’s four campuses will not be the only beneficiaries of the expansion and renovation. Franklin said the new amphitheater is a way to reach community members through outdoor productions and other family friendly events.

“I think we can do all kinds of things,” he said. “We can do a passion play . . . on the grounds. And we dream of doing concerts and fireworks and things like that on the Fourth of July. People can bring their families.”

The chapel and outdoor reflection pool and baptistry will offer a place for smaller, more intimate moments for families and friends such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“We want to build ministry where they can be hatched, matched and dispatched,” Franklin said. “We’ve got them coming and going.”

The new expansion and renovation will not pop up overnight. The project will cost time (about nine months with a December completion date) and money (between $7.5 million to $8 million). Luckily, the church planned for it, setting aside space for the future and earmarking money for the expansion project.

“The people give and get it done,” Franklin said.

Completing the work on the project are Brewster-Crocker Architects, 3D Project Management, Pellicano Construction as the general contractor and Rochester & Associates as civil engineers. These groups are turning the church’s dream into a reality.

“There are special days and memories for families to pass on and talk about faith and family,” Franklin said. “Whether it’s a wedding, a funeral, a baby’s baptism, it will help us minister more to our congregation and community.”

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