NORTH FORSYTH — The Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd on Holtzclaw Road recently underwent major renovations to accommodate its growing flock.
The parish has swelled from about 1,500 to 2,400 members in the past few years, said the Rev. Francis Richardson, pastor.
The renovations, which began in October, included changes to both the interior and exterior of the church.
“For all intents and purposes it’s almost a brand-new church, from the worship standpoint,” said John Carruth, the project architect from Millard Inc. in Roswell.
The exterior, which had previously been gray, was repainted brown, with the addition of stone and a new entrance tower.
The church’s narthex, or entrance lobby, was in between the sanctuary and the parish hall, which is the site of church events. The new space features a larger sanctuary, with seating for up to 700. It could previously accommodate 412.
The new narthex is where the parish hall used to be, and the entrance was moved and now marked with a tower to signify it as the main door.
Because of the church’s growth, Mass often was crowded before the renovations. Many parishioners sat in the parish hall watching the service on television or through the area’s glass walls because of a lack of sanctuary space.
“In the old situation, we had people back in a room that we couldn’t see,” Richardson said. “They could see us on TV, but we couldn’t see them … we didn’t want to have two congregations.”
In addition to the new extra pews, the sanctuary also has a new loft for the choir and organ, leaving more room on the sides of the altar area for wheelchair ramps.
The altar itself also got a new look, with stone added to the sides of the existing wood.
“Part of the rethinking of this was to reintroduce the stone we were using out at the front and bring it in here,” said John Carruth, the project architect.
The chapel, where daily Mass is held, was expanded to seat about 60 people rather than a dozen. The stained glass window in the old chapel, which was made at a monastery in Conyers, was transferred to the new space.
Robin Millard, president of Millard Inc., was involved in the renovations as well and has a personal connection to the church — he’s been a parishioner since 1977.
“Robin was the architect of the original building,” Carruth said. “A lot of the things we’ve done this time were anticipated when they designed it the first time … we made provisions that we could [add brick or stone] more easily this time around.”
Millard said he was excited to be able to help the church accommodate for its growth.
“I was thrilled to be a part of the renovations for the church,” he said.
The church has held three weddings and two funerals since the renovations were completed.