By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published November 12, 2021
DAWSONVILLE—Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv, consecrated a new church building for Christ the Redeemer Church in Dawsonville on the Feast of All Saints, Nov. 1. It was his first consecration as archbishop.
Father Brian Higgins, pastor of Christ the Redeemer, said the building project was a community effort.
“The entire parish got involved from the smallest member to the remaining founding members,” he said. “This was not only an act of faith and trust on their part; it was an act of love. For 39 years this has been a dream that became a most amazing reality, all for the greater glory of God.”
Father Higgins said the community was honored to have the first church consecrated by Archbishop Hartmayer.
At the evening Mass, the archbishop called All Saints’ Day a beautiful feast to celebrate a new church, as prayers are united with the “great cloud of witnesses in Heaven.”
“This is very important because while today we celebrate the consecration of this church and thank God for all those who have contributed to it, we are called to remember that it isn’t buildings, however beautiful they are, which are the heart and soul of the church,” said Archbishop Hartmayer. “Rather it is the people, the community whom God has called and gathered together who are the church.”
The archbishop shared St. Paul’s reminder to those gathered—“You are God’s building.”
“So never forget you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives among you and within you,” he said.
Parishioner Skotti Frese was the chair of the capital campaign, “Together As One.” The campaign began in 2018 and in 16 weeks, the parish had raised $3.2 million on a $2 million goal. Total construction cost was $5.3 million.
“Christ the Redeemer is an extraordinary parish filled with remarkably generous souls who had waited a very long time to build a permanent church home,” said Frese in an email.
The general contractor for the new building was Moeller Purcell Construction Company. The late Richard “Brad” Bradfield, a parishioner of Christ the Redeemer, drew the original building plans in 2000. He was a principal with the firm Bradfield, Richards, Rhodes & Associates Architects. Bradfield died in 2007.
The new building on the Kilough Church Road property in Dawsonville contains a narthex, cry room, vestry, choir loft, nave that seats 430, which includes two transepts and a sacristy behind the sanctuary. The basement contains eight classrooms, a large LifeTeen room with a kitchen and a dedicated adoration chapel.
A former multi-purpose building on the site, built in 2004, will be used as office space and a parish hall.
A longtime dream
Christ the Redeemer was founded in 1982, beginning as a mission of St. Luke Church in Dahlonega when Catholics were few in Dawson County. There were 10 founding families. For nearly 39 years, the community has worshipped in borrowed, rented or temporary facilities including a public library and the Dawsonville United Methodist Church. A local couple would bring the vestments and altar furnishings each week for Mass in the early years.
In 1986, a nine-acre land purchase enabled the community to convert a four-bedroom brick home into a place of worship. The first building dedication in December 1992 was attended by 125 people.
The church broke ground on a multi-purpose building on new property in 2004, but with a membership of 400 households it outgrew the building. The parish has a variety of apostolates including a food pantry serving the community and the Knights of Columbus.
The parish is still accepting donations to its building fund through OSV on the parish website.
In his All Saints’ homily, Archbishop Hartmayer remembered the late Msgr. Stephen Churchwell, an early pastor of the community. He also acknowledged the generosity and zeal of the parishioners for contributing $1.3 million over the first capital campaign goal in just a few months’ time. Groundbreaking for the new building was in December 2018.
The archbishop thanked Father Higgins for guiding the process to completion.
“This new church building exists … for this one purpose: to enable you, God’s people, to be a credible and effective sign of the love of Christ at work in the world,” the archbishop told parishioners. “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.”