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Church may find sanctuary on Railroad Street

Members of Grace Community Fellowship may soon have a place they can call their own, at least for the time being.

During the Jan. 8 meeting, the Thomson City Council will decide whether to allow the new church to meet in the old Salvation Army store on Railroad Street.

The church, which was formed in September, has been meeting in the Sweetwater Park activity center.

According to Pastor Richard Kitchens, members of the church wanted a place where they could set up decorations more conducive to a church setting.

Currently, other groups rent the activity center as well. Everything that Grace Community Fellowship uses has to be set up before and removed after each service.

"Of course, we're limited to the number of services we can have because the building is rented to other people for other functions as well," Rev. Kitchens said. "It will be a blessing to us to have a place that we can do the necessary cosmetics or decorations to have a church atmosphere."

Since the storefront is zoned for commercial use, the Thomson City Council will be voting on whether or not to give the church a conditional use exception. The exception would allow the church to use the property for one year.

During that year, the church will make preparations to erect a building on about five acres of land that it owns on Hwy. 17 and Old Milledgeville Road. Meanwhile, church meetings would take place in the Railroad Street building.

"We have to have time to prepare that property," Rev. Kitchens said. "We have to dig a well and put a septic tank in and those kinds of things. ... Our plan is to be permanently located there."

A possible problem that caused initial concerned for officials was parking. The church meets on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon. During that time the main business that is open on Railroad Street is Ivery's Restaurant.

But according to Rev. Kitchens, members will be encouraged to park in areas that won't conflict with Ivery's parking. Members will be asked to park in a small lot behind the building, in the east end of the lot behind the depot annex and in the Knox shopping center lot.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem at all," Rev. Kitchens said. "There are plenty of parking spaces. I don't think we would interfere at all with Ivery's parking."

If the council approves the move, the church will start services in the former Salvation Army store by the end of January.

Members of the church also plan on giving the building a facelift in the process.



Web posted on Wednesday, December 31, 2003











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