By Ansley Brackin
The buzz that overflowed the sanctuary on Ground Breaking Sunday for the new Christian Life Center at Buford First UMC was lively and jubilant. The service, which doubled as Homecoming Sunday, was filled with music and words of encouragement from Bishop Othal Lakey of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and Gainesville District Superintendent Rev. Richard Chewning.
“We need a place for people to live from moment to moment,” Chewning said in his sermon as the congregation nodded in agreement.
Sounds of celebration poured from the church doors as hundreds of worshipers sang “Marching to Zion” as they made their way to the ground breaking site. Several members and contributors of various ages broke ground with gold-painted shovels, and children’s church drew pictures and uplifting words with chalk on the sidewalk.
The decision to expand the 144 year old building has been so well received by the community that local business are financially contributing to its construction. After years of struggling to find the best way to further their connection with the people of the city, the church finally feels affirmation that they are heading in the best direction.
The building will include an Activity Center that will seat more than 900 people, 22 classrooms, media center, indoor and outdoor playing areas and much more. The existing building will receive upgrades as well, including an office remodeling and repairs to the bell tower.
Church pastor Rev. Sondra Jones embraced every family as they headed to the fellowship hall for a potluck lunch celebrating the ground breaking.
That same care and compassion from Buford First UMC and Rev. Jones expands far outside of the church walls. Jones takes part in the city council meetings and works with others to improve the community’s wellness and education. She never lets anybody’s passions and skills go to waste.
The congregation has provided weekend lunches every Saturday afternoon for local children since 2010 through their Sack Kids Hunger program. Their Tree of Life Garden, which is tended by members, provides fruits and vegetables for the community and for the North Gwinnett Co-Op.
As its campaign slogan says, Buford First UMC is truly “Building and Growing to the Glory of God.”