First Baptist Woodstock is starting a ministry in Canton with plans to hold the first worship services there in the first quarter of next year.
At the same time, First Baptist Canton is also seeing growth with a new campus it opened earlier this year in Macedonia.
First Baptist Woodstock has been granted a conditional use permit by the Canton City Council to use the buildings at 150 Hickory Flat Highway near the Marietta Road intersection for a church and outreach programs.
Church volunteer Randy Richardson of Canton said it has operated a "Church on the Street" program in the parking lot for about two years.
At 11:30 a.m. on Mondays, volunteers share the gospel, serve food and provide diapers and clothes to about 100 to 110 people a week.
Changed2 Ministries, the name of the new, expanded ministry, will build upon that success to reach more people.
"We know the needs here in the community are great," he said. "Two hours a week is not enough to meet the needs of the community."
While the facility is in an area frequented by many Spanish-speaking people, including day laborers waiting for work, the ministry will serve the entire Canton community.
Richardson said renovation work on the building will start at the beginning of next year, with the first worship services planned to start in March.
The ministry will also offer Sunday school classes and rooms with computers to allow people to job search and take classes in English, Spanish and reading skills.
He said there are plans for the new location to ultimately be equipped with soccer fields, a basketball court and a picnic pavilion.
"There is a lot of potential here. It is just going to take a little bit of time," he said.
Since he is a resident of Canton, Richardson wanted to see his church, which has 16,000 members, take its efforts further north in Cherokee.
Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said what the church is doing at the new location is "very honorable."
It also, he said, will be an improvement to the area, which is one of the gateways into the city.
"That area has not looked all that good in a long time," he said. "They will certainly be welcome."
First Baptist Canton earlier this year opened an east campus at Creekview High School on Owens Store Road in Macedonia.
Brian Ergle, executive pastor for the church and teaching pastor at the east campus, said the new site has between 150 and 170 members.
"We wanted to provide a worship experience for people that live in that area," Ergle said, noting the church's total membership is about 3,000 people.
Both worship services and Sunday school is offered at the new location, with classes at 9:05 a.m. followed by worship at 10:30 a.m.
The church, he said, now can reach people who live in east Cherokee and didn't want to drive to Canton "but were willing to connect with something in their own community."
"The response has been excellent. We met a lot of new folks," he said. "We are excited about reaching people we didn't know before."