In an historical action, directors of the General Board of Global Ministries voted this week to buy the property of Grace United Methodist Church in Atlanta and to relocate its headquarters there from New York City. The Directors also voted to set up regional offices in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Georgia-based headquarters would have mission responsibilities in the United States.
The Board of Global Ministries expects to renovate the Grace UMC complex on Ponce de Leon Avenue, with the congregation continuing to worship there.
"I'm grateful for the faithfulness of the members of Grace as we've discerned this possibility for our local church and the global church," said Rev. Kate Floyd, pastor of Grace UMC. "The Holy Spirit is indeed at work!"
Floyd explained that this partnership will enable Grace to be debt-free and free from maintenance and building costs so that the church can focus its efforts on God's vision for the church and community.
The property purchase is subject to the approval of two denominational entities, the General Commission on Finance and Administration and the Connectional Table. If the plan receives the needed endorsement, the time table calls for the move to happen in two years.
"The North Georgia Conference leadership is excited about the possibilities of having GBGM here," said Rev. Mike Selleck, director of Connectional Ministries. "We are aware this move will take some time and that difficult challenges have to be faced, especially in regard to present staff and myriad other adjustments. Through all the changes, we here in North Georgia stand ready to help in every way possible to make them feel at home, supported, encouraged, and connected."
The North Georgia Conference has worked closely with GBGM as it has developed the Bridges mission initiative and recently partnered with GBGM on a unique staff position. Rev. Scott Parrish was hired as a mission specialist to spend 60 percent of his time with the North Georgia Conference and 40 percent working for GBGM.
"Scott is now in a unique situation where he can even more easily bridge and blend connections between GBGM and North Georgia missions work," said Selleck.
In addition to a strong local network of United Methodists, the Grace UMC property offers proximity to Rollins School of Public Health, The Carter Center, Candler School of Theology, Gammon Theological Seminary, and access to Hartsfield Jackson Airport -- all of which were factors in choosing Atlanta for GBGM's headquarters.
"God, through Jesus Christ, indeed makes all things new and we look forward to a bright future for Atlanta and the world," wrote Floyd in an email to Grace members. "I know you'll join me in praying for all in the midst of this transition."