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One small church manages to find resources to buy its home
The Rev. James McNeal, left, of Friendship Community Baptist Church shares a laugh with church members Carol Bannister, center, and Gary Bailey outside the church building their newly formed church plans to buy. Members of the church want to buy back the church building, which was built in 1844, because many family members are buried at the cemetery. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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By: Katie B. Davis

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Friendship Community Baptist Church

Address: 3990 Friendship Road, Buford
Contact: 770-633-6327
Upcoming events: Homecoming Aug. 9

In just three weeks, members of Friendship Community Baptist Church have raised a whopping $85,000 to purchase their old church building.

The Buford church has a little less than a week to collect the last $15,000 to close the sale on Friday. Church member Gary Bailey said he is confident the church will raise $100,000 in time.

"I think it's an amazing thing that we have raised the money in four weeks," he said. "It's all about us just trying to get home."

Added longtime church member Carol Bannister, "We didn't do it, God did."

"It's been going wonderful, God has really been blessing us."

The Friendship Community Baptist congregation set a goal to purchase the church property from The Ridge because of the history the church gave to the Friendship Road area.

They wanted to buy the property previously, but their efforts fell short. After months of contemplation, church members made another offer on the property and this time it was accepted.

The offer was approved three weeks ago; they had nearly a month to raise $100,000.

So, in a down economy how does a fledgling congregation raise so much money in such a short time?

Well, the church asked for donations from local residents and had events like a cake sale to raise money.

"Most of it has been members, and we sent letters out to people that have association with the church and have gone to the church in the past, have family members buried here," Bailey said. "A lot of our resources have come from the community."

The church also received help from former pastor the Rev. James McNeal, who agreed to serve as the new pastor of Friendship Community Baptist.

"The whole reason for all this is to maintain this here because it's been here 165 years ... and because of what it means to the community," said the longtime North Georgia pastor.

The original congregation, which was created in 1844, could have moved to another location. They have met at various buildings in the past two years. But Bailey said it made the most sense to buy the original building.

"The first reason is that most people that go here, their families are buried right here and they want to preserve this property," Bailey said of the 60 members. "The second reason is, it just makes good business sense for our church.

Bailey and Bannister call the purchase a homecoming of sorts.

"We hope to reach out into the community and bring people to Christ and also to be able to meet the needs of our congregation," Bannister said.

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