“It’s been fun,” Lutheran Pastor Ginny Krekling said. “We feel like a big family. It really is like having two groups of people from the same church. I don’t think the neighborhood knows it’s two churches. We all feel very much like it doesn’t matter.”
The Lutheran congregation has been meeting at the Adventist church, which is a few blocks off Marietta Road near downtown Canton, for several months.
When the Adventists met on Highway 20, Celebration of Grace considered renting space then, but discovered there wasn’t enough parking. The Adventists purchased the current building at 411 Scott Mill Rd. three years ago, and renovated the facility. First conversations about the recent pairing began a year ago.
“Our congregations complement each other,” Adventist Pastor Zane Yi said. “Our congregation has a lot of young married members and Celebration of Grace has parents of children that have children so the two communities coming together felt like a big family.”
After meeting in the and a , Krekling said Celebration of Grace members are happy to settle into a new facility.
“There’s a permanency of being in a building that looks like a church and being in a neighborhood,” Krekling said. “It gives us a very clear ministry as well. If we look around a five-mile circle of the church, we see so much diversity. We have a clear mandate to go out and help the folks in that five-mile radius.”
The congregations worked together to host Vacation Bible School for neighborhood children this summer. Forever Fed, a nonprofit food ministry, holds a monthly event in the parking lot, and volunteers from both churches turn out to help.
The congregations are roughly the same size, according to Krekling. Between 35 and 40 worship each Sunday at Celebration of Grace, and close to 50 attend the Saturday Adventist services.
Krekling is eager to begin English and Spanish as Second Language classes, and possibly an after-school program for neighborhood children.
“We’re really looking forward to serving our neighborhood and the city of Canton together in the upcoming year, and welcome new friends to join us,” Yi said.
Editor's note: A version of this story previously appeared in the January edition of The Cherokee Vine, a monthly newsletter that highlights news and events from churches, ministries and charitable organizations in Cherokee County.