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161-year-old Ebenezer UMC enjoying new era of growth


Church expanding building, congregation



ebenezer_1_w
The 161-year-old Ebenezer United Methodist Church sits at the corner of Arnold Mill Road and Cox Road in Milton. This past year has seen it grow significantly. (click for larger version)
April 13, 2014
 

MILTON, Ga. – It is a historic landmark in North Fulton that most people simply know as "the little white church on the corner." But members of Ebenezer United Methodist Church believe it would be more accurate to call it, "the rapidly growing little white church on the corner."

After 161 years of existence, there are growing signs that new life has been breathed into the white-clapboard church, located at the corner of Ga. 140/Arnold Mill Road and Cox Road in Milton. It has been a special year at the 173-member Ebenezer, beyond an increase in membership and Sunday attendance.

Last fall, the church finished construction of its new fellowship hall, featuring a modern, fully equipped kitchen, an expanded nursery, a rocking-chair porch and new office space.

"And the best news," said the Rev. Glenn Hannigan, "is that we did not need to take out a loan to complete the project. It has all been paid for by the faithful members of this congregation."

In the past few months, the church has also reconstituted its choir, which had been absent for many years, added a youth group and opened its sanctuary for prayer during the week.

Then last month, in perhaps the most significant development of all, the church purchased the 3-acre tract that surrounds its property.

"This additional property will help guarantee that we have room for future growth," Hannigan said. "We not only needed the extra space for parking but also to support the local ministry we feel that we have been called to do. It is an exciting time in the history of our church."

Hannigan, who is in his fourth year serving as pastor of Ebenezer, took an unusual path into the ministry. Before becoming a pastor, he was a career journalist, with more than 20 years of experience at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. At the AJC, Hannigan worked in a variety of roles, including sports editor, senior news editor for the 1996 Olympics, Sunday editor and special projects editor. He also wrote a local column for many years.

"I see a direct connection between journalism and the ministry," said Hannigan. "It is all a search for truth, isn't it? In journalism, as with our personal faith journey, we need to be open to follow the evidence wherever it leads us."

And, at Ebenezer UMC, the evidence is clearly pointing to a time of renewal and growth.

"I don't think we need to look for any explanations for our growth beyond God's blessing and God's timing," Hannigan said.

During his tenure at Ebenezer, Hannigan has emphasized personal spiritual growth, prayer, Bible study and being a church that keeps its doors wide open.

"When I first came to Ebenezer, I was concerned how accepting the church members would be of people from different backgrounds, because I have a rather quirky, diverse group of friends from my career as a newspaper editor," Hannigan said. "As it turns out, I had not a thing to worry about. Almost without exception, every person who has walked through these doors has commented on how welcome and accepted they have felt. I imagine that is one of the main reasons we have been so blessed."

For more information, go to HYPERLINK "http://ebzumc.org" ebzumc.org or call 678-386-8178. The church is located on 12900 Arnold Mill Road, Milton.

MH 04-16-14

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