A computer generated model of The John C. Maxwell Leadership Center located at Sugarloaf Circle in Duluth. 12Stone Church now has four locations in Georgia, three of which are in Gwinnett County. The John C. Maxwell Leadership Center grand opening will be January 2014.
DULUTH -- John C. Maxwell has built an international following as an evangelical pastor. He has topped the most elite book lists, selling 19 million books.
But Maxwell's biggest dream is just now coming true, with the construction of the John C. Maxwell Leadership Center in Duluth.
"I never thought I would be able to pick that dream up again," Maxwell said Friday, recounting the offer from 12Stone Church's Pastor Kevin Myers that left him weeping. "It's always a better place to live if you raise up leaders."
The center, where ministerial students will receive real-world training and the entire community will be invited to learn from some of the brightest minds in business and other fields, will be built on a hill overlooking Interstate 85, off Satellite Boulevard in Duluth. Estimated at a cost of $21 million, the 70,000-square-foot will include classrooms and training halls, as well as a 1,000-seat worship auditorium, which will become home to 12Stone's fourth location. It is expected to open in January of 2014.
"Our slice in this is really to raise up leaders for the next generation," Myers said at a groundbreaking ceremony attended by dozens of civic, government and business leaders. Myers said the reach of the individuals trained there would span the globe, but he added, "it is our hope that we add value right here at home in Gwinnett."
Gwinnett Chairwoman Charlotte Nash joked at the ceremony that she learned much of her leadership skills in the chicken pen, during her rural upbringing in the Harbins community. But she said the state-of-the-art, tech-savvy center will mean a lot to meeting the challenges of the future.
"I know the impact is going to be felt around the world," she said.
The center will be the headquarters for Maxwell's EQUIP organization, which holds training sessions for the public. An event hours after the groundbreaking featuring NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was the first offering for the community in what is expected to be a slew of events.
The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce leaders promised to be a partner in the venture, and touted the economic impact of 12Stone, which is the fastest growing church in Georgia and one of the 30 largest churches in the nation.
"Leadership is a defining aspect of Gwinnett that sets our county apart from all others," Chamber President Jim Maran said. "The John C. Maxwell Leadership Center along with the expansion of 12Stone within Gwinnett will add to the richness of Gwinnett's world-class community. We are truly honored that this dynamic institution has chosen to call Gwinnett home."