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Peachtree Corners Baptist Church 2021 VBS, traveling to neighborhoods around the area



Peachtree Corners Baptist Church’s’ construction-themed VBS,“Concretes & Cranes” is coming to a neighborhood near you June 14-16. They will be hosting Neighborhood VBS gatherings in various local neighborhoods for kids who have completed Kindergarten through 5th grade.

We are so excited to let you know that VBS is going to take place this summer! Our mission of reaching kids for Christ is the same, but our method is changing! This year we are going to bring VBS to Peachtree Corners neighborhoods from June 14-16th! So, mark your calendars and join in for PCBC’s Neighborhood VBS this summer! 

Calling all 5th graders! The church is going to have a 5th grade VBS Party on June 17 from 10am-1pm in the Student Center! Come join us for water games, Bible study, slushees, and pizza!

Kids who will be completing Kindergarten through 5th grade are invited to don their hard hats and head out to the construction site to discover that skyscrapers aren’t the only things that need a rock-solid foundation!

Site 1 – Blueprints | Peachtree Station | Jessica Campbell | 10:30am-12:30pm

Site 2 – Hard Hats | Amberfield | Suzanna Trice | 10:15am-12:15pm

Site 3 – Cranes | Green Leaf | Michelle Reuter |10:15am-12:15pm

Site 4 – Cement Trucks | North Manor | Sara Kroening | 2pm-4pm

Site 5 – Forklifts | Neely Farms | Susan Kearns | 10am-12pm (June 14, 15, & 17th)

Site 6 – Tool Belts | Peachtree Station | Erin Seitz | 10:30am-12:30pm

Site 7 – Jackhammers | Peachtree Station | Marlyn El-Sayegh | 6pm-8pm

Site 8 – Bull Dozers | PCBC | Olivia Morales | 6pm-8pm

Site 9 – Dump Trucks | PCBC | Rachel Weinberg | 10am-12pm

Site 10 – Construction Cones | River Station | Michelle Minor | 6pm-8pm

Register your child at this link.

If you are interested in volunteering with this year’s unique VBS and bringing VBS to your neighborhood, it isn’t too late to sign up. Connect with the families in your neighborhood. Positions include teaching, being a site host, leading crafts, music or recreation, and more.

Volunteer Here

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Much to Rejoice: Father Charles Byrd Assumes Role as New Pastor at Mary Our Queen Catholic Church



Father Charles Arthur Byrd.

Photos of Father Byrd by Tracey Rice

Father Charles Arthur Byrd has led a rich, fulfilling personal and ministerial life prior to accepting his latest leadership role this July as the new Pastor at Mary Our Queen Catholic Church.

“Former pastors led in the building of our new church. Father Byrd, another visionary, will lead this parish forward,” long-time parishioner Jim Gaffey said.

It’s a daunting task to come into an established body of faith and make a positive difference, but Father Byrd is well up to the challenge.

“[Peachtree Corners] is a wonderful community, with a lot of good families. A lot of names to learn, but it’s a great parish,” Father Byrd said.

Prior to seminary, Father Byrd worked in the exciting world of advertising, residing in Louisville, Kentucky for seven years. Father Byrd was raised Protestant, faithfully attending church in his hometown of Newnan, Georgia with his mother and father, brother and two sisters. During his time in Louisville, he was introduced to Catholicism and began singing in the choir at St. Martin’s, as well as serving as the cantor for the Latin Mass there.

The road to Peachtree Corners

In his introductory letter to Mary Our Queen, Father Byrd describes his faith journey of self-discovery that eventually led him to pursue a higher calling of community service and a dedicated seminary program.

He finished his pre-theology at a Benedictine seminary in southwestern Pennsylvania, then his Bachelor’s of Sacred Theology at a Jesuit University in Rome and his License in Sacred Theology at a Dominican University in Rome. Father Byrd was ordained a deacon in St. Peter’s Basilica by the future Pope Benedict in 1999. Archbishop Donoghue ordained him a priest in Atlanta in 2001.

As a newly ordained priest, Father Byrd served for nearly two years at St. Andrew’s Parish in Roswell. From there he was sent to teach and do formation work at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe where he had studied pre-theology.

In his letter to Mary Our Queen, Father Byrd expresses a profound love of the teaching aspects of being in a pastoral position, helping priests and parishioners alike in their spiritual and liturgical growth. Father Byrd’s extensive career trajectory has taken him across the globe, and yet he continues to return to his home state of Georgia, to Atlanta for almost two years at The Cathedral of Christ the King, then to Jasper as pastor at Our Lady of the Mountains for over a decade.

Mary Our Queen during service. Photo from Mary Our Queen Facebook page.

Now twenty years into his priesthood, Father Byrd shows no signs of slowing down and no waning of enthusiasm, as he is eager to begin a new chapter with Mary Our Queen. “Worship is, after all, who we are. I like embracing the whole of Catholicism. It is a great joy to me. The teacher in me will help us embrace together more and more of our rich heritage,” Father Byrd said in his introductory letter.

“Father Byrd’s unique background, focus and joyous approach, continuing the building of community, is already having an impactful effect,” Gaffey reported.

Looking forward

There is much to rejoice about at Mary Our Queen, and much to look forward to in the coming season and year. “We have a busy schedule coming up. We just did our All Soul’s Requiem mass and All Saint’s mass,” Father Byrd said. “Then we have Thanksgiving coming up and Advent starting. Christmas is going to be kind of complicated this year as it falls on a Saturday, so a busy time. We have the choir back, singing and doing a great job.”

For more information about Father Byrd and Mary Our Queen, visit maryourqueen.com .

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A Match Made in Heaven-Husband and Wife Team Up as Simpsonwood UMC Co-Pastors



Photos by Tracey Rice

Some people might find working in a professional setting with their spouse a challenge, but for the two new co-pastors at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church, ministry is the family business that suits them just fine.

David and Susan Allen Grady assumed their leadership roles at Simpsonwood on July 6, and since then they have kept rather busy getting to know their faith community. Both pastors are first career clergy that have worked separately in several church management roles in different places. Most of their ministries have been in Intown Atlanta communities around Dekalb county, as well as churches in Cobb and Fulton Counties.

For a bit of background, the pair met during seminary at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. David spent some time in the United Kingdom then went back home to Alabama, and later his marriage to Susan led them back to the Atlanta area. Since then, he has lived and worked throughout different parts of Georgia, serving congregations of various sizes in Roswell and the Chamblee/Tucker areas, to name a few.

Then the bishop surprisingly called both David and Susan to Peachtree Corners.

The family business

Susan grew up as a pastor’s kid in Georgia, so she said, “we kind of jokingly say it’s like our family business.” And the cycle continues as the couple have a daughter in 7th grade at Pinckneyville Middle School. It’s an unexpected perk of the job that with both parents working at the church, the whole family can spend Sunday mornings together in the same place.

In the unique position of serving together in the same church body for the first time, David and Susan remark on the blessings that the arrangement offers for them personally and for Simpsonwood.

“We are different. We have different gifts, different interests and different skills. We know each other well after being married for years, so it’s a blessing to see each other really shining and doing the things that we are both gifted for and love, supporting each other in that,” Susan said.

“And also, having that person that is your equal teammate to bounce ideas off of and to get advice from, to check in with when we’re doing new things, those are some real blessings that we deeply value.”

David had this to say in addition to Susan’s thoughts. “And I think another blessing for our congregation and our life is that we get to model leadership a little bit differently, in kind of a shared model leadership. I think the other piece to this is that one of the things we might be learning is that Peachtree Corners is maybe at the front edge of a generational turning over,” he said. “So we can, in our work, model ways of being professional, model ways of being in relationships, and model what is healthy and what healthy behavior looks like for life together.”

In their short time here in Peachtree Corners, David and Susan have noticed that this is a town with a strong sense of identity and community-mindedness. “This is a destination for people, even more than just the next community over, as in ‘I want to move to the next community over’ for whatever reason. But Peachtree Corners is a place people are choosing specifically and there is a sense of identity in that also.”

“It doesn’t feel like a stereotypical suburb because you see people that you know when you go places. This is a community that people are investing themselves in, rather than just a ‘bedroom’ community.”

Holiday events, traditional and new

As the holiday season approaches, there is a palpable sense of anticipation for the extraordinary events that will take place at Simpsonwood UMC. The locally famous Walk Through Bethlehem returns December 10-12 in its more traditional form, as opposed to last year’s movie experience that was incorporated into the online Christmas Eve service.

“We are excited to offer a Christmas Eve service that is more what people are used to,” David said.

Additionally, a brand-new Traveler’s Christmas Eve service will also be available on December 19, in addition to the standard service times, to accommodate churchgoers that may be out of town at Christmastime.

So David and Susan will have ample opportunity to meet and greet with much of their community, and they will continue to dedicate themselves to getting to know what makes Simpsonwood tick.

“When we are new in a church, we spend, really, a full year — but definitely the first six month or so — really getting to know the place and the community,” Susan said. “We are excited to see what the Christmas traditions are, those in Peachtree Corners and Simpsonwood, and bring our own ideas, like the Travel’s Christmas service,” Susan said.

For more information on David, Susan and Simpsonwood UMC, please visit simpsonwoodumc.org.

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Norcross Presbyterian dedicates renovated historic church building



Photos provided by Jason Bernando.

A very special and spiritual day occurred recently for Norcross Presbyterian Church (NPC) as an official dedication ceremony took place to celebrate the church’s move into their newly renovated old church home of 89 Jones Street. On Sunday October 17 at 11 a.m., the congregation came together to commiserate.

(from L to R) Chip Blankenship, Aishe Brooks-Johnson, Rev. Matthew Fry, Cassandra Morrow and Dr. Lewis Fowler, Jr.

A revered guest spoke at this momentous occasion. Reverend Dr. Lewis Fowler, Jr. was the pastor of NPC from 1966 to 1974 during a turbulent time for Gwinnett County and the nation. He recounted some poignant moments in the life of the church, moments when the church was a progressive leader on issues like desegregation and the war in Vietnam. Fowler was the last pastor to preach in the historic church before the move in 1972.

Executive Presbyter Aisha Brooks-Johnson and other representatives of the Presbytrery of Greater Atlanta were present to support the mission of Norcross Presbyterian Church in its new home.

A bit of background is needed to pinpoint the meaning behind this move. Back in 1899, the NPC congregation built a small white church with a distinctive bell tower in downtown Norcross, the church on Jones Street. NPC worshiped there for 73 years. 

In 1972, they sold the property and moved to a more modern building not far away. The old church building endured. And now, 50 years later, the NPC congregation is moving back into their previous home church, in order to return to a more intimate religious setting that better suits a modest church body.

NPC Administrator Jason Bernando explains further implications of the move and the improvements to the building that have been made.

“The goal of the renovation was to maintain the historic look and feel of the building, but to also give it modern amenities and functionality. A great example are the stained glass windows. These windows were an original feature of the building in 1899.

The three ornate windows memorialize three historical persons from the early church. These windows were removed back in 1972 and installed in the church we moved into at that time. We are very excited to bring the windows back to the Jones Street building and restore them to their former glory,” Bernando said.

Efforts have been taken to modernize the church, with features “that include wireless audio and video capabilities that amplify sound, show graphics and videos, and stream services live on the internet. Not bad for a building that was constructed before electricity came to Norcross!” Bernando said.

For more information about Norcross Presbyterian, visit norcrosspresbyterian.org

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