A familiar site will greet visitors to the new United Methodist Center. The hand-carved "Christ Doors" that served as the entrance to the main building at Simpsonwood, have been installed in the reception area of the Century Center building.
The late Arnold and Lucille Hughey had the doors commissioned and presented as a gift to Simpsonwood in 1987. The Hugheys were long-time members of Decatur First United Methodist Church.
After a great deal of research to find the right artist for the project, they chose Timothy Sutherland of Atlanta to hand-carve the doors. Sutherland's wife, who was very involved in the project, crafted the acid-sketched stained glass windows that flank the doors.
The Hughey's nephew and his wife, David and Susan Popwell (also members of Decatur First UMC), inherited a passion for the doors. They were Arnold Hughey's primary caregivers following Lucy's death in 1999 until Arnold's death in 2010.
"Susan and I never tired of hearing Arnold telling stories recollecting his fond memories of the long exciting stages of the creation of these beautiful doors," wrote David in a note to Rev. David Jones of Decatur First.
The Conference Board of Trustees considered several options for the future of the doors, but ultimately decided to find a way to install them in the United Methodist Center offices so that they could be enjoyed by United Methodists from across the Conference.
"Susan and I both, as well as many others, have experienced touching the hand of Christ on these doors and the indescribable feeling as we ponder the thought of what it will be like to one day touch the hand of Jesus," wrote Popwell. "Someday we will experience firsthand that 'electricity' when the One we have not seen, but have trusted, reaches to take OUR hand and lead us to Eternal Glory with the Father."
Note: The North Georgia Conference found an original sketch of the doors (pictured at right) in the move from Simpsonwood property to the Century Center building.