Restored 103-year-old church to hold women's conference

WINDER - The Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit church is hosting its first conference tonight after undergoing more than 18 months of renovations.

The Daughters of the King Conference brings together women who have prevailed over painful and challenging circumstances to share their testimonies and encourage other women.

The church building itself is the oldest operating church in the downtown area. It, too, persevered through nearly insurmountable obstacles and emerged as a gracious and spectacular figure.

When Phillip and Linda Adair first saw the church, it was about to feel the wrecking ball. A bell tower was leaning toward collapse, the floorboards were rotten and the roof was rusted. The 103-year-old building, originally a Methodist Episcopal church, had been used as a restaurant for several years, then abandoned.

An architectural engineer estimated renovation costs at $700,000. Its owner, C.B. "Doc" Skelton - Barrow County's poet laureate - wanted the building preserved and gave it to the Adairs.

Through monetary donations and volunteer labor, the church opened last summer for Sunday morning services. The church seats 185 guests in antique seats salvaged from an Atlanta movie theater. A crystal chandelier from the Atlanta Ritz Carlton gives the old church a touch of glitter.

The building still needs more than $70,000 to repair the roof on the rear addition and for landscaping.

The Daughters of the King Conference, which began Friday, will present testimony from Becky James, cancer and robbery survivor; Tish Arrington, worship leader at Christian Life Center in Columbus; Susan Litchford, who will offer a testimony of healing; Norma Jean Brown, Barrow County's human resources director and former county commissioner; Melanie Willets, vocalist; Kendra Pierce, wife of the sanctuary's associate pastor; and Linda Adair, who will speak about identity, security and authority in God.