Revolution Church grand opening
When: Following the 10 a.m. service Sunday
Where: Mule Camp Springs Plaza, 311 Jesse Jewell SW, Gainesville
The members of Revolution Church aren’t concerned with keeping up traditional appearances.
“I actually started the church in my house with a few of my friends,” said Shad Treadaway, Revolution pastor. “I told them I had something to share with them, so about six or eight of them came over one Tuesday night. I said, ‘We’re going to start a church, but it’s not going to be your typical church. We’re going to be known for serving, being involved and offering hope first — before we’re ever known as a church.’”
Revolution members have gotten involved with various community nonprofits, efforts to serve the homeless and low-income families.
Even their location is aimed toward that goal. Last fall, the church started meeting at the Georgia Mountains Center. At 10 a.m. Sunday they’ll open the doors to their very own space — a former store front in the Mule Camp Springs plaza on Jesse Jewell Parkway, nestled between Wild Wing Cafe and Foxhole Guns and Archery.
Although most churches try to keep establishments that sell alcohol and firearms away from their front door, Revolution members look forward to joining the neighborhood, which also includes an American Red Cross office.
“People give blood. People buy guns. People eat wings. Why would we separate ourselves from people?” Treadaway said. “There’s not a single person that would ever walk into any of these place that we would want to judge. With who we are and who we are becoming in the city, it makes perfect sense for us to be where we are.”
Although local ordinances won’t allow bars to open in such close proximity to a church, in this case, the bar was open first and the church followed.
Sunday’s grand opening will include a free lunch and family-oriented party after the service in the church’s parking lot.
On any given Sunday, Treadaway says the service includes about 120 worshippers. There are members and guests, college students and business professionals, home makers and homeless people, even a former drug dealer and prostitute.
“We didn’t start this church just to have another church, because there are lots of great churches in this town. The reason we chose to set up here in the middle of the city is because there’s a really wide chasm between the demographics,” Treadaway said. “The underlying culture of our church is John 13:34 and 35. Jesus is about to be killed that next day and he says to his disciples, ‘Love each other the way I have loved you, that’s the way the world will know that you are my followers.’
“There are seriously impoverished people here. There’s a lot of homelessness. There’s a lot of racism. And there’s a lot of wealth. They’re all occupying the same space, but they never really turn their eyes towards one another. We want to help all of these groups.”
With its exposed brick wall and folding chairs, even the church’s sanctuary is nontraditional. Instead of being backed by a choir stand, the podium where Treadaway will deliver sermons backs up to a wall of corrugated steel. Eventually, the back half of the main sanctuary will feature high-top tables and chairs. There are also plans to display art from local artists in the living room area near the front door.
Ultimately, they’re just striving to create an environment that’s comfortable for everyone.
“We had a woman start attending and she gave her life to Christ this year. One day, I was saying hello to her and I said her name,” Treadaway said. “She said, ‘You have no idea how much that meant to me. I’ve spent my whole life feeling invisible. I can’t believe I’m a part of a place like this that feels so much like home, so much like family.’ If that’s our big indictment, if that’s what people say about us, then we’re achieving what we want to achieve. That’s what Christ did.”
Although he’s strayed from the conservative church of his childhood, Treadaway says his ministry’s focus isn’t about taking anything away from traditional churches. Instead, like the sign above their door says, he’s striving to present, “A community of hope, faith and love,” to those who seek it.
“The foundation of everything we do is love God. Love others,” Treadaway said. “Church is not intended to be in a corner away from everyone or a member’s only club. That’s not the message of the Gospel that Christ presented. He said, ‘I came so all men would have peace and all men would know (God).’ This is a continuation of his message.
“He spent a fraction of his time in the temple and the majority of his time in the marketplace with the people. As best as we could find, this is as close as we could get to that marketplace.”