New Hope Christian Church in Gwinnett Set to Celebrate 150th Anniversary with Special Brush Arbor |


New Hope Christian Church will hold a special coming home event on September 18 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church, located on Old Norcross Road in Lawrenceville.

Longtime church member Sandra Thompson, who is a deacon and was among those planning the anniversary celebration, said that in 1872, 26 residents of the community became founding members of New Hope and are originally encountered under a brush arbor in the same place where the church stands. today.

The reunion celebration is set to begin at 11 a.m. on September 18. A former member of the church, the Reverend Courtney Montgomery Chandler, will serve as guest preacher. A graduate of Berkmar High School, Chandler serves as director of religious education and family ministry at Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri.

After the service, there will be a covered lunch in the fellowship hall, then homemade ice cream will be served near the church’s community garden.

Reverend James Shelton, who has pastored New Hope Christian for the past 14 years, said: “It is truly a testament to the grace of God and the faithfulness of the people here in this church (and) the love that still pervades this church. for our community.

“Even though many of our members have moved quite a distance, people come back every weekend for our services. It’s exciting to still see that commitment and faithfulness to what God has had in New Hope for 150 years.

In recognition of these early New Hope services, church members constructed a brush arbor from felled trees on church property.

For the uninitiated, a brush arbor is an open-sided shelter made of brush that is “constructed of vertical poles driven into the ground with additional long poles laid on top as support for a roof of brush, cut branches or hay.

“When this church first met in 1872 it met under a brush arbor and some of our guys (built) a replica of that brush arbor and it will face Old Norcross Road” , Shelton said.

“The brush arbor was a starting point for them to gather at this place, where the church began 150 years ago,” Thompson added. “It’s to show people that back then when you didn’t have a building to meet, most of the time people met in houses. But they decided to establish something there down at the corner of Oakland Road and Old Norcross Road and that was the start, a symbol of community.

Some 300 invitation letters were sent to current and former church members and friends, and Shelton said he expected a reunion gathering of around 150 people.

“When we celebrated our 145th anniversary in 2017, we had a church full of people and we had to set up tables in some of the Sunday school rooms for lunch because we had more room than we could fit in. the trading room,” Thompson said. “A lot of people come back for that.”

Shelton, who said average Sunday attendance was around 75 as a result of the COVID pandemic, said membership was starting to increase, adding that church members had developed a strong relationship with the community.

“We’ve been in a season of mission and retention,” he said. “…Over the past six months we have seen new faces coming our way and it has been exciting. One of the most exciting things that has happened here is the start of the Oakland Community Garden a few years ago, which has become a real connection point for the church and the community around us.


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