After 161 years of existence, there are growing signs that new life has been breathed into the beautiful white-clapboard church, located at the corner of Arnold Mill Road and Cox Road. It has been a special year at Ebenezer, beyond an increase in membership and Sunday attendance, church members say.
Last fall, the church finished construction of its new fellowship hall, featuring a modern, fully-equipped kitchen, an expanded nursery, a rocking-chair porch, new office space and various other extras.
“And the best news,” said the Rev. Glenn Hannigan, “is that we did not need to take out a loan to complete the project. It has all been paid for by the faithful members of this congregation.”
Hannigan, a long-time resident of Cherokee County, is in his fourth year serving as pastor of Ebenezer. He took an unusual path into the ministry. Before becoming a pastor, Hannigan was a career journalist, with more than 20 years’ experience at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. At the AJC, Hannigan worked in a variety of roles, including sports editor, senior news editor for the 1996 Olympics, Sunday editor and special projects editor. He also wrote a local column for the AJC’s Cherokee edition for many years.
In the past few months, Ebenezer UMC has reconstituted its choir, which had been absent for many years, added a youth group, and opened its sanctuary for prayer during the week.
Then last month, in perhaps the most significant development of all, the church purchased the three-acre tract that surrounds its property.
“This additional property will help guarantee that we have room for future growth,” Hannigan said. “We not only needed the extra space for parking but also to support the local ministry we feel that we have been called to do. It is an exciting time in the history of our church.”
Many people have asked Hannigan how he made the unusual transition from career newspaper editor to clergyman.
“I see a direct connection between journalism and the ministry,” Hannigan said. “It is all a search for truth, isn’t it? In journalism, as with our personal faith journey, we need to be open to follow the evidence wherever it leads us.”
And, at Ebenezer UMC, the evidence is clearly pointing to a time of renewal and growth.
“I don’t think we need to look for any explanations for our growth beyond God’s blessing and God’s timing,” Hannigan said.
During his tenure at Ebenezer, Hannigan has emphasized personal spiritual growth, prayer, Bible study and being a church that keeps its doors wide open.
“When I first came to Ebenezer, I was concerned how accepting the church members would be of people from different backgrounds,” Hannigan said, “because I have a rather, quirky, diverse group of friends from my career as a newspaper editor. As it turns out, I had not a thing to worry about. Almost without exception, every person who has walked through these doors has commented on how welcome and accepted they have felt. I imagine that is one of the main reasons we have been so blessed.”
Ebenezer has services every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. The church also has a Bible study every Wednesday at noon and a Wednesday night fellowship meal at 6:15 p.m., with choir, youth group and an adult discussion group meeting at 7 p.m.
Easter sunrise service is at 7 a.m., with breakfast immediately afterward. There will also be services at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. service on Easter. For more information, visit ebzumc.org or call (678) 386-8178.