St. Lawrence breaks ground on expansion project

St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Lawrenceville broke ground last month for its church expansion and office renovation.

After an evening prayer service, church members gathered outside for the ground breaking. The Rev. Albert Jowdy, St. Lawrence's pastor, and Deacon Patrick Fagan, chair of the parish's building renovation committee, each turned over a shovelful of dirt at the construction site.

The present church building, erected in 1987, seats 450. The renovation plan will increase seating to 900 to better serve the parish, which includes 3,000 households.

A simultaneous office renovation will provide pastoral offices, a parish hall, nursery, restrooms, vestry and meeting space surrounding an open-air courtyard.

St. Lawrence was founded in 1963 and was the first Catholic community in Gwinnett County. The church is located at 319 Grayson Highway in Lawrenceville.

Baptist church turns 125

Snellville First Baptist Church celebrated its 125th anniversary on Aug. 12.

The church opened its doors as the Darien Baptist Church in 1882 - 38 years before the city of Snellville itself was chartered. The name was changed to Snellville Baptist Church the following year, and then to First Baptist Church of Snellville in 1975.

Over the span of 125 years, 21 men have served as senior pastor at the church. The church has grown from seven charter members to 8,858 members in 2006.

The first church building, a frame structure, served the church until 1952, when a stone chapel was finished. The current sanctuary was completed in 1978. The church broke ground on a $3.1 million Children's Building this summer.

Art gallery to host benefit for outreach group

Mason Murer Fine Art will host a benefit for Rising Star Outreach mission group from 7 to 10 p.m. today.

The benefit will feature artwork from the Bharatipuram Leprosy Colony in Tamil Nadu, India. The event will also include performances from Broadway performers Shaun Parry and Sarah Jane Everman, as well as Indian cuisine. Artwork from the Bindu School of Art will be on display and available for purchase. The art gallery is located at 199 Armour Drive in Atlanta.

Alpharetta-based Rising Star Outreach works to help leprosy colonies become self-sufficient communities. For more information, visit