LETTERS: Church apologizes for unintended traffic jam

My name is Norwood Davis, and I serve on the staff of 12Stone Church and am responding to the many comments on its behalf.

First, I apologize to those who were inconvenienced on Saturday ("Traffic snarl caused by goodwill event," Dec. 18, 1A). While there were many contributing factors to the traffic congestion on Saturday including multiple shopping malls, the beginning of the holiday travel season, etc., we recognize that the Feed 5000 campaign made a significant contribution to the traffic congestion across the northern part of the county on Saturday.

Second, we recognize that there were many unintended consequences and inconveniences. While we had developed a traffic management plan weeks ahead and refined it through the approach and even the day of the event, the word of mouth, viral explosion around the event produced a response from those seeking the Christmas package that overwhelmed our plan. While our plan did not anticipate the volume of traffic, we did invest a significant amount of time, energy and money in developing a plan. While we may have underestimated the volume of traffic, we were not dismissive or inattentive to the planning process. In the end, we are guilty of being human and making mistakes. For that, we ask your forgiveness.

Third, we appreciate the assistance and support of the Gwinnett County Police, Gwinnett County Fire, Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office and the many municipal police departments that assisted in responding to the traffic congestion. We ask that the public please direct any frustration to us and not toward the dedicated public safety officials that serve all of us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Fourth, we appreciate the time people are taking to offer constructive comments and suggestions on how any future efforts may be handled differently. There are a number of very productive thoughts, ideas, and suggestions that will help us do better next time. I invite any so inclined to email me directly with your constructive ideas to norwood.davis@12stone.com

Fifth, I want to thank the hundreds of people who have offered their encouragement to us to continue to serve those among us most in need in our community. Long after all of our frustrations regarding this event have evaporated, 24,000 people from some 6,000 unemployed families will celebrate a Christmas meal together that they may not have otherwise enjoyed.

Sixth, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

-- Norwood Davis,

Chief Financial Officer

12Stone Church


mikekorom 3 years, 9 months ago

God is good, all the time! Even in traffic.

Merry Christmas!


kmsimpson 3 years, 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Davis, As one of those stuck in that joyous event, I have a few comments. First, this is not the first time 12 Stone has done damage to the local traffic, it just happens to be the most in depth. Routinely every weekend 12 Stone messes up traffic in the area. I happen to live very close to 12 Stone, and without fail, I have difficulties getting places on Sundays due to 12 Stone. We in the local neighborhood have to time OUR schedules around YOUR services. One weekend, I was literally trapped in my subdivision! Lately, you have also taken to also blocking traffic on SR 20 on Saturdays and Wednesdays, and this week, you can also put Friday on that list. No offense sir, but we, too, have lives.

along with all that, let's not forget the number of businesses that had their Saturday business absolutely destroyed by your event. Are you going to repay them? Many of the businesses are small businesses that can ill afford to lose out on a Saturday's income.

Second, had 12 Stone REALLY wanted to help out the community, they could have checked to see if any of the local people needed help. We have a battered women's shelter here in Lawrenceville, along with several other places that probably could have used the food, never mind that I'm sure many of their actual neighbors may have needed the food. Instead, we had people coming in from Oconee County, and other places. That does nothing for the local community.

Kathleen Simpson Lawrenceville, GA

The reason so many people are so upset with 12 Stone is not because of this weekend in particular, but because overall, your church is an inconsiderate, rude neighbor.


kevin 3 years, 9 months ago

why doesn't the church split the giveaway between two far away from each other locations? Simple solution.


Tammy52 3 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if opinions would be the same if the "rude neighbor" was a baseball stadium rather than a church, and it was a ballgame rather than an event that helped the poor? Just seems that you can't widen the road any more than it is. There was a time when it was a two lane highway! Maybe time events with ball games etc...that are going on around the area, and for sure, don't do it on a saturday! Weekdays might fare better for future reference.


RockSpringsResident 3 years, 9 months ago

This apology was a defense, not a sincere admission of any wrongdoing. "may have underestimated the volume of traffic"? "We are guilty of being human and making mistakes?" What mistake was made? This isn't really the humble apology I would hope to hear from a church leader.


jefflyle 3 years, 9 months ago

Dear 12Stone (Kevin, Norwood & other leaders),

Bravo, brothers. I live near the intersection of Hwy. 20 and Old P'Tree and endured the traffic troubles that day. When I found out what was going on, I thanked God for the response to 12Stone's community outreach. I also happen to be the pastor of the church right next to you guys and I wanted to put my 2 cents in on the Saturday events: You obviously rightly discerned the need in our community - thanks for being wise and willing. Thank you for massively caring for hurting and needy people. Thank you for planning the best you could and then responding properly when your plans didn't manifest as you had hoped. Thank you for showing incredible kindness to metro-Atlantans by being compassionate and practical. Thank you for giving to the extent that it cost you something and then not pouting when you took heat from those who were inconvenienced. If all churches were as risky as you guys then the Kingdom would be a lot more appealing...even if it became a lot more messy. Don't back off your commitment to Kingdom love and provision because a lot of us are learning from it. My two cents? The people you helped certainly weren't complaining and the rest of us should weigh the value of personal inconvenience versus Kingdom generosity. -Jeff Lyle, pastor of Meadow


by jefflyle


lulu37 3 years, 9 months ago

First of all, I am happy that unemployed people have a way to get food during the holidays. However, as someone who was stuck in this traffic for about five hours with my family who came from across the country to visit us, I am terribly upset about this. There were NO other causes of traffic other than this event. The mall traffic was never bad now that they widened the road to three lanes on each side, so don't blame this on the "malls" in the area. Also my husband and I talked to three businesses in the area that we use and two of them lost out on significant business, and my husband's hairdresser lost out on three hours of her valuable salary. What if someone had a medical emergency? No ambulance or fire truck could have gotten through this mess. I too am frustrated every week by the traffic this church causes, we have to wait until later in the day on Sunday if we want to get anywhere without getting caught in the traffic. Not to mention, a lot of what I saw going into the stadium were people driving luxury cars. I personally saw an Acura, a navigator, a BMW, and a Lexus going into the stadium. I highly doubt someone who is really unemployed would be driving a car like this.

My suggestion to you is that, next time, you do this during the week, and people getting the food need to bring proof of unemployment.


tressag5 3 years, 9 months ago

Church people...so uncaring. They need to set up a shuttle service closer to someone else's neighborhood.

Five hours? You're not embellishing a little, are you?

Your husband has a hairdresser?


kmsimpson 3 years, 9 months ago

She probably is not embellishing, as it took me over an hour and a half to drive 7 miles. It cost me $40 worth of gas that still had to be made up, so it came from our Christmas dinner. Thankfully, one of our local businesses, Chadwick's helped me out. They also lost a ton of business thanks to the church. Will 12 Stone reimburse Mr. Chadwick or any of the other businesses that were harmed by this?


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