It’s not often that both David Walter Banks (my husband) and I are hired to work on a photo story together. We work together so often on personal projects (rural America), editing, and when we travel, but it’s rare that we get to for a deadline assignment for a magazine. This project was a real treat.
Atlanta Magazine worked with us to brainstorm ideas for a photo series for their South issue. We settled on Sunday church services in the greater Atlanta area. David and I headed to a few churches together and a few alone.
My favorite part was listening to the beautiful varied singing at each church.
First up was Big Bethel. The Sunday church service is led by Rev. Dr. Gregory Eason, Sr. With more than 160 years of history, Big Bethel AME Church is the oldest African American congregation in the city of Atlanta.
The singing was absolutely incredible in this beautiful old sanctuary.
Then, it was off to North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. North Point is a non-denominational Christian megachurch with more than 24,000 members in the congregation. With its five campuses, it is one of the largest churches in the United States. The Sunday service I photographed included a rock concert and a handful of baptisms projected on large screens in the sanctuary. The service here was a huge production that engaged the audience. The children’s wing was incredible, as you can see in a few of the images below.
Another Sunday, I was off to the service led by Reverend Matthew Nelson at Inman Park United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the Sunday before the start of school and the congregation prayed over all the children and teachers. Members had the opportunity to stand up and announce prayer requests and the reverend knew every individual’s name. I really felt a wonderful sense of community in this smaller church.
The next Sunday I headed to Sunday mass at Cathedral of Christ the King on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. The parish, which now has 11 masses per weekend with 12,000 members, was established in 1936. The land on Peachtree was originally bought from the KKK!
The photo at the top of this post was taken at Christ the King, as well. I sat there waiting for the organist Connie Melgaar to touch that sheet music for so long. Glad I finally caught it.
The next Sunday service, I was off to a suburb of Atlanta. I arrived at Camp Creek Primitive Baptist Church in Lilburn, Georgia, a small church with a whole lot of history.
The church, which was formed in 1823 is the oldest active church in Gwinnett County, Georgia and currently has around 70 members. Pastor John Melvin, who is also the Assistant District Attorney in Deklab County, has been pastor of the church for fourteen years. I arrived early (of course) and was treated to some stories from members of the congregation who kindly approached me.
See David’s take on the same project HERE.