Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, has been a friend of United Church Homes’ Laurel’s Edge senior housing community since before the affordable housing community’s inception in 2004. Founded in 1989, the church has had six different places of worship in the past 26 years under the leadership of Rev. Jim Conrad, with most locations a short distance from Laurel’s Edge, which opened in July 2004.
As the population in the Atlanta suburb has grown older over the years, Towne View has demonstrated how a supportive church community can be a vital partner in providing abundant aging for people of all ages.
While plans were underway to construct Laurel’s Edge to provide a new affordable housing option to those 62 and older, then manager Don Mason set up a table at Towne View Baptist Church to take housing applications. The first residents moved into their new apartments in July 2004, and the church’s engagement with residents and staff expanded.
Although small, the church is a trailblazer. Last year, Towne View Baptist Church adopted an inclusive membership position for LGBTQ believers, which is unique to Baptist churches in northwest Atlanta. The congregation affirms women in leadership roles and is ethnically diverse, with about one-quarter of attendance being non-Anglo.
“In Atlanta, folks who moved from elsewhere might not have deep family connections here. Church becomes community for them,” Pastor Jim said. “In a church community, we can help one another.”
The community mentality has extended to their neighbors at Laurel’s Edge. Pastor Jim hosts an annual memorial service for residents who have passed away, while congregants also get involved with bingo, cards and other games as well as Bible studies and cookouts.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed life drastically, Pastor Jim and our Towne View friends keep thinking of new ways to build community at Laurel’s Edge. In the past, the church hosted Memorial Day cookouts, but this year it offered a “cook in,” with teens in masks delivering meals to residents. The church also provided essential supplies during the early stage of the pandemic. Congregants found bulk toilet paper and took it to Laurel’s Edge for those who could not get to the store.
Congregants of all ages visit residents, and these intergenerational experiences are as much of a blessing and benefit to Towne View Baptist Church as they are to Laurel’s Edge residents, Pastor Jim said.