Published June 8, 2006
DULUTH — Just hours before Georgia Baptist staff occupied their new headquarters building in Gwinnett County in late May, the purpose of the structure was already being fulfilled.
During the four-day move from the old Baptist Center to the new Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center at Sugarloaf Parkway, staff were not only concerned if they would get their offices up and running in record time; they were also concerned about the spiritual well-being of those making the move possible. With that commitment to eternal values, two employees with Graebel Movers were led to Christ before the move was completed.
Patrick Crawford and Mark Sterling each lead an individual to faith as the opportunities presented themselves. Crawford, who is employed in Support Services, and Sterling, consultant in Evangelism Ministries, shared their witnessing encounters with staff during an informal gathering in the chapel on May 22 – the first day in the new structure.
Crawford was able to share his testimony throughout the day with James, who first initiated the conversation by asking what business was headquartered in the building. Sterling found an opportunity to share the Gospel with Robert and his coworkers as they sat on the loading dock taking an afternoon break. Both encounters bore fruit as the individuals trusted Christ with their lives.
GBC Executive Director J. Robert White expressed his gratitude to both employees in the agency’s first staff meeting on May 22 following their sharing the experience with coworkers. White said he was grateful that staff were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and were not so caught up in the pressure of the move that they could not be sensitive to the spiritual needs of those around them.
White said such commitment epitomizes part of the reason the building was constructed – to equip staff to be more effective in their ministries, personal and professional, as they enable churches to do the same.
The 43-acre tract in the heart of Gwinnett County is easily distinguishable by passersby due to a 55-foot-tall cross rising from a small lake in front of the building. The symbol of Christ’s undying love will be easily visible day and night on the busy stretch of Sugarloaf Parkway, directly across from the heavily trafficked Gwinnett Civic Center.
The five-story building is state-of-the art and will allow convention business to be conducted in a more cost-efficient manner. Utilities are already several thousands of dollars cheaper per month due to technology which saves on heating and cooling costs.
The $42-million project – $23 million for the building, $10 million for the land, and $9 million for technological innovations – will be formally dedicated during the upcoming state convention meeting in November. Convention sessions will be held across the street at the Gwinnett Civic Center and messengers will attend an open house where the structure will be showcased.
Visitors – whether they are churched or not – will have no problem quickly grasping the goal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Upon entering they will walk into the Old Testament lobby where a ceiling mural on the rotunda displays the creation of the world. Through a short walkway they will enter the New Testament lobby, where a marble statue of Jesus and two children – a boy on his lap, a girl at his side – will be prominently displayed. And just beyond them in the lake will be the five-story cross with its story of eternal love and redemption.
The mailing and street address for the new headquarters is 6405 Sugarloaf Parkway; Duluth, GA 30097-4092. All phone numbers remain the same.
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6405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, GA 30097
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