First, they planted seeds for the future by investing in a new parcel of land. Then they planted literal seeds to put the land to use. On Sunday, Dec. 16, they reaped a harvest.
Villa Rica First UMC, which purchased 18.5 acres off Carrollton-Villa Rica Highway in 2006, celebrated the first service at its new location after many years of prayer, planning and anticipation.
“It was an emotional day, a great day,” said senior pastor Derek Porter. “It marks a big change for us and a very big step forward.”
But in no way was it an easy step.
After more than 100 years of serving the community at its previous locations, Villa Rica church leaders realized that for the church to faithfully serve the community it needed to move from its former land-locked location with limited parking to a larger, higher-visibility site. So, six years ago, the church purchased property on a major roadway.
“Though we knew we were making an investment in the future, the 18-and-a-half acres was costing us money every month but not providing any benefit,” Porter said. “So a few years ago we decided to plant on garden on the site to serve two purposes: to physically get people on the property and to provide food for low-income families and local missions we support.”
The effort proved so fruitful that it inspired a new moniker for the historic church: Villa Rica FUMC at the Garden.
“We decided that we are on this property to grow everything from vegetables to children.”
At the Dec. 16 celebratory service, the fruits of the labor were evident. More than 400 people attended the event, including 35-40 youth and approximately 60 children or infants. All told, 436 were in attendance. The previous church had a capacity of 180.
“Years ago,” Porter said, “if we had 10 kids it was a good Sunday. Now we have plenty of room to grow.”
And to reap a harvest for the kingdom.