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Church breaks ground on new worship center


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

  What happened last Sunday at Glen Haven Baptist Church was not something anyone expected 12 years ago.

Representatives of Glen Haven Baptist Church and other key people involved in the construction of the new worship center.                                                          Special photo

  The congregation of about 230 members relocated from Decatur to McDonough in 2002, acquiring property on East Lake Road just east of Hwy. 155 and across from the Union Grove school complex. Thanks to what can only be described as explosive growth the past decade, a new addition to the landscape is on the horizon.

  A crowd of several hundred gathered on the front lawn after the morning services for a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the upcoming construction of a 1,400-seat worship center.

  The building, which will connect to the existing buildings on the campus, will total about 44,000 square feet and include new office space for the staff, which now is scattered throughout the current building during the week because of space limitations.

  Glen Haven Baptist Church was founded in 1947 in Decatur. After making the difficult decision to relocate, the congregation initially met each Sunday at Union Grove High School and conducted Wednesday night services at Pleasant Grove Elementary School. This happened for more than two years until the first phase of church construction – including the present sanctuary, classrooms and a gymnasium – was completed in 2004.

  “We were told that we wouldn’t grow in a school, but we could just hope to maintain our attendance,” said senior pastor Stan Berrong, only the third pastor in the church’s 66-year history. “But we did grow.”

  For the first Sunday on the property, church officials did not set out all of the 650 chairs that had been purchased because they didn’t want a lot of empty seats to make a negative impression. However, the crowd was large enough that the rest of the chairs were hastily arranged that morning and 200 more were purchased the next week.

  Since then the staff and deacons have been tasked almost constantly with finding ways to accommodate growth, as a classroom addition was built in 2007 and service times have changed more than once.

  “We did not expect to grow that quickly,” said Berrong. “We were told we would probably have to change some things, become more contemporary, and that our music probably wouldn’t work in today’s culture.”

  The worship style and music can best be described as mixed, being neither totally traditional nor completely contemporary. Regardless of style, the church has been recognized several times by the Georgia Baptist Convention in recent years for its rapid growth.

  Currently Glen Haven hosts three Sunday morning services, at 8:15, 9:45 and 11:00. Various Sunday school classes meet throughout the morning as well, and the church has regular Sunday night and Wednesday night services in addition to special events.

  “We’ve waited as long as we could to build a new building,” said Berrong. “We’ve done everything we can [to handle the crowds].”

  Aside from the current building, the church has developed an outdoor athletic complex at the rear of the property for use by children as well as adults.

  The campus will be filled every day during the second week of June, as more than 500 children are expected to attend vacation Bible school at that time. Well over 200 church members typically sign up as volunteers for this annual event.

  “That is the most exciting week for us,” said Berrong. “As I’ve said often from the pulpit, we put our greatest emphasis in our church, with our money and everything else, on our children and youth programs.”

  Church officials hope to complete construction on the new worship center in 18 months.

  For more information about the church, visit



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