Financial blessing saves church's dream for new home

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Graystone Church is located at 1551 Ozora Road in Loganville.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Graystone Church is located at 1551 Ozora Road in Loganville.

LOGANVILLE -- A year ago, the bank loan Graystone Church had secured to build its new home fell through.

Due to the economic climate, the church would have to continue holding services in the renovated warehouse in Grayson where it had met for the past five years.

"Of course we were very disappointed," said Jennifer Howes, wife of lead pastor Jonathan Howes. "But we just used the time to grow our church family and grow spiritually."

An unexpected blessing soon came in April through a private investor, who was able to lend the church $2.1 million of the $2.5 million it needed.

But the church would need to raise the remaining $400,000 by Oct. 25. That's when the All In Campaign kicked off.

"Jonathan asked every church member to be all in, 100 percent committed to what we were going to do for the community," Jennifer Howes remembered.

Going into the service that final Sunday in October, Graystone Church was short about $80,000.

But the financial blessings poured in from the congregation.

"We had $168,000 given to the offering that Sunday, which was just a huge affirmation that the church was behind what we were doing and that we were all in it," Jennifer Howes remembered. "It's not one person giving a lot of money, it's every person being obedient to what God wants them to do in giving."

Using about 50 trucks, Graystone Church moved into its 24,000-square-foot building at 1551 Ozora Road in Loganville the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The first Sunday in its new building, Dec. 6, the church drew 1,100 attendees for its two services compared to the average of 650 who worshiped in the warehouse. The numbers have remained high.

"It's been pretty amazing," said Jonathan Howes. "Everyone's real excited about it, that's for sure."

The church will hold a dedication for its new building during Sunday's services.

"It's going to be a Sunday for the church family to celebrate what God has done for us," Howes said, "then we'll be getting ready for the grand opening Jan. 10."

Services next weekend will be typical of regular Graystone Church services, with praise and worship music and the pastor's message. For the next six weeks, Howes' sermons will focus on parenting.

Classes for children during the service will also be held.

"We want the grand opening to be very similar to what any Sunday at Graystone Church would be like so someone can experience who we are," Jennifer Howes said.

The church hopes its building will be something used by the surrounding community.

"We wanted to build a building that wouldn't just be church on Sunday morning," Howes said. "We wanted something the community could use throughout the week. We really wanted to build it not just for Graystone Church, but for the whole community."

Graystone Church holds services at 9:15 and 11 a.m. Sundays. For more information, call770-466-3159 or visit www.graystonechurch.com.