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Renovated church open for services

WINDER - The Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit feels a lot like your living room - if your living room is 102 years old with a gorgeous chandelier and seats from a torn-down theater.

It is warm and inviting, full of soft light and comfortable.

Just a year ago, the place was a wreck. The floorboards were weak, the bell tower was leaning, and the building was about to be

condemned.

But a Lawrenceville antiques dealer and his wife stepped in and more than spruced the place up - they tore down walls and built new ones, converted the church that had become a restaurant back into a church again and cleaned the old stained-glass windows.

Construction continues on the church, which is still scattered with lumber and equipment. But the sanctuary is done, and church members have been worshipping there for the past several weeks.

Phillip Adair, the church's pastor and the antiques dealer who took it under his wing, said everyone who has seen the church's transformation has been wowed.

"Everybody who hears about it thinks it's a little clapboard church, then they come in here and they can't even speak for a minute," he said.

His wife, Linda Adair, said she still doesn't believe the church's sanctuary is finished.

"I think it hit us the hardest the Saturday night before we got in here," she said. "We just sat on the pew and cried. It seemed like it was never going to happen for a while."

Normally, between 50 and 60 people filled the church at its temporary location. That first Sunday, there were 88 people at the church - and they didn't even advertise.

Everything in the church has a story. Phillip Adair's 1938 Chevrolet Coup was sold to buy the chandelier, and the pulpit he built has wood from a table someone threw away carved into a dove and warped cherry tree boards forming its top. Adair said the warp in the boards reminds him that God's word is perfect, even though the people reading it are not.

"People walk in and talk about what a good feeling they get," Linda Adair said. "It's like an old shoe, so elegant, so comfortable. ... The old gal finally got the jewelry she deserved."