Moving a Church Stone-by-Stone, Prayer-by-Prayer
Peachtree Corners, GA -- St. Gerard’s Church building will be on display at the Peachtree Corners Festival this weekend.
Well, not the actual church but a replica of it. Mary Our Queen Catholic Church in Peachtree Corners, is continuing to raise awareness and funding to move the real St. Gerard’s Church building stone-by-stone and stained glass window-by-window to Peachtree Corners. The new city of Peachtree Corners will be home to one of the most beautiful classical churches.
Why a replica? Father David Dye, pastor at Mary Our Queen, explains, “If prayer can move a mountain, we believe that prayer can move a church. Every time a prayer is offered, a stone is dropped through the clear roof of the replica. If you stop by the Mary Our Queen booth at the festival, you are welcome to offer a prayer and drop in a stone to help the quest.”
The location for the reconstructed church will be The Corners Parkway and Crooked Creek; and the relocated building will become a center of community outreach, concerts and, above all, a spiritual place to worship.
Mary Our Queen has outgrown its space and parishioners are anxious to exchange the plain church for one that was built by immigrants in a smaller scale of St. Paul’s Outside the Wall in Rome.
The classical architecture will rival that of churches in other cities. It will quickly become a tourist destination in Gwinnett County. The long-range plan of the project includes a community-focused approach to house ministries and civic outreach programs in adjacent buildings.
St. Gerard’s Church (completed in 1911) is a Gilded Age approximation (at one-third scale) of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four major basilicas of Rome. Its exterior is of Indiana limestone. The interior is travertine marble and beautifully done plaster.
Its atmosphere is a mix of neoclassical and baroque, with hints of art moderne. Twelve solid granite columns line the nave. The 12,000 square-foot church is graced with soaring ceilings, a 110-foot bell tower, 15 oil paintings and more than 40 stained glass windows throughout.
Disassembling and reconstructing the church is estimated at $16 million. The parish has raised $3 million and is set to launch the next phase of the campaign. Several companies have committed to in-kind donations including transporting the church from Buffalo to Peachtree Corners. Other such donations are sought as are grants.
The campaign is fully endorsed by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York; The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory; Archbishop of Atlanta; and The Most Reverend Edward U. Kmiec, Bishop of Buffalo as well as former St.Gerard parishioners.
In addition, preservationists and classical architects offer support as well because moving the church is the only way to prevent the wrecking ball. Hence, the campaign often uses “Preservation by Relocation” in publications.