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Best Churches In Atlanta – A new downtown church offering a prime location is looking for the right growth to realize what leaders call “God’s big vision.”

Leaders say the first downtown United Methodist church in more than 115 years has been housed in a Gothic sanctuary at 360 Main St., and its goal is two-fold: to answer the call by being able to develop more affordable housing in the real city. center. market properties.

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Specifically, the church is seeking a partner through a planning request to redevelop a 1.8-acre downtown site between Peachtree and West Peachtree streets, just south of the Medicine Center for the Arts.

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The site currently consists of a paid car park, an existing school and disused buildings.

Church representative Kevin Holt said the plan is to create an affordable mixed-use building, given the site’s SP1 zoning, which could be 50 storeys or more.

“The church wants to develop something effective,” he said. “But the exact location depends on your plans with your chosen development partner.”

According to the RFP, the component, other than the “accessible/affordable building,” must be at least 50,000 square feet to accommodate the expansion of the church’s first day school and provide at least 150 parking spaces.

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“As the dividing line between downtown and downtown, we believe the time has come to make a big impact on our city in the near future,” Shepherd’s Rose Smothers wrote in the RFP. “To realize this incredible vision, we are looking for the best real estate development partner who shares our vision and values, thinking about the best and highest performance and utility.”

A site visit for interested parties is scheduled for September 10, and all final proposals will be submitted by October 7.

In December, another central church, the 151-year-old First Congregational Church, issued a similar RFP call to redevelop a 0.8-acre site at the corner of Ellis and Courtland streets.

Officials have been asked for an update on the proposal, and a follow-up story will include any information. Growing up gay and Baptist, Jim Harper and Darrell Card saw a big difference in Christianity when they walked to the corner of Peachtree and Fifth streets. Pride parade in the early 1990s. “Across the street, the Atlanta First Baptist Church hired Atlanta police on horseback to prevent gays from entering their property,” he said. “Across the street at Mark’s United Methodist Church, the congregation and pastor give water.”

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Now married, Harper and Card (now Harper) were born in St. Mark and Jim, 67, also live in St. Jim laughed: “We call ourselves Restoration Baptists. The couple met in 1980 and were officially married on December 30, 2016.

At a time when the world is still debating the anti-gay doctrines written into Methodism’s rule books, St. For nearly 30 years, St. Mark’s has shown growth and inclusion by welcoming Atlanta’s LGBTQ community and welcoming gay clergy.

The church’s civil rights legacy was doomed more than 50 years ago. The seeds of the pioneering gay rights movement were first planted on Gay Day in 1990. It was the first Sunday in the pulpit of St. Paul on a summer morning in June. Incoming Senior Pastor Dr. Mike Cordle.

Cordle, now 74, lives in Highlands, N.C. “I remember thinking it was like a city bringing in new missionaries. Then I realized that there could be no sign for me. “

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When he started, Mark had about 25 guests a week. “I remember telling the bishop who ordained me at Mark Marks that if I didn’t have a black-and-white picture of what I was doing, I couldn’t understand why I was going from a congregation of 750 to a church of 25 people.” Cordell recalled. “He told me he needs you, serve them with respect.”

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“In short,” Cordell said. Mark is dying.” So did the city’s gay population in Atlanta in 1990, as the AIDS epidemic spiraled out of control and effective treatments were few and far between.

“I’m not one of those 15-minute missionaries where God talks to me every 15 minutes,” Cordell said. “I have a very silent phone, but on my first Sunday after I closed those doors, something in my head said,

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You have an empty church and thousands of my children are not welcomed into the church outside these doors

Concerned that sending out a worship invitation to members of the LGBTQ+ community would be suicidal, Cordell approached church leaders about the idea anyway. Their reaction surprised him. “I wish they wouldn’t say that in this life. But then I realized that they were the same people who called people of color to worship at the height of civil rights. These people in the ’60s and ’70s were called the Hippie Movement, and they built homes for unwed mothers, many of whom were prostitutes. “

Cordell grew up in Rome, Georgia and saw firsthand the vile nature of racism. One day, when he was about 11 years old, he and his brother ordered a root beer float at a local beer store. The black doctor in town sat down and ordered a cheeseburger and sandwich. The brothers looked at the customer to spit on the black doctor, spat on him, and finally arrested him.

“In this work, God made me understand that it is not right to humiliate others,” he said. “God put me in Mark Marks at the right time.”

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During Gay Pride in 1991, Cordell and his new congregation printed worship invitations and glasses of cold water for thirsty attendees. Cordell, a gay man, was cautious.

But the following Sunday, two new women’s communities appeared in the field. The next week they brought a boy. As they spread across the city, the seats began to fill up. Newly gay members of the church offered insight into Cordell’s calls to his married father and his efforts, particularly around the AIDS crisis. Cordle began visiting patients in the hospital and performing at memorial services, whether they stayed in the shelter or on the patio of Burkart Bar, a popular downtown gay bar.

“Most Saturdays, during the height of the AIDS crisis, I would travel to south Macon and then to Gainesville, doing many services for those dying of the disease,” Cordell said.

The parishioner’s story is important to Cordell: “This young man with AIDS said he was going home to see his parish priest. , he wanted to be buried in his family’s grave, I encouraged him, we prayed together, he left, instead the boy’s priest said it was disgusting, disrespectful to his parents, and he left his love. the boy went home and hanged himself. “

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Nearly three years later, Cordell recounted the story on the phone after a moment of silence. When he spoke again, his tone was pained. “I’ve always known that. I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. It’s just what people are born with. God doesn’t forbid it. We’re all part of God’s creation and we should be.”

After Cordell’s first three years were over, he turned down Bishop’s offer to move. The congregation grew to about 2,000 and helped complete the $750,000 renovation of the church, which was built in 1902. Broken pipe organ green bells replaced. The choir included 150 of the city’s best musicians, many of whom became professionals.

A hymn of particular importance to St. Mark’s Church: “As I See.” “I would look outside and see people singing with tears in their eyes,” Cordell said. They know the music belongs to them. According to them, they are welcomed not only by our church, but also by God.

“I’ve always known that. I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. It’s just what people are born with. God doesn’t forbid it. We’re all part of God’s creation and we should be.”

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