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Growing church expands downtown
Reach Church pic
Electrician Terry Samples reviews construction plans at the former Freds discount store, which will soon be home to Reach Church. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

At a glance

For more information on Reach Church, call Pastor Sam Nissen at (706) 429-8209.

It wasn't long ago that Pastor Sam Nissen was holding Sunday morning services in the yard of his home in northwestern Dawson County.

"With my family and all the kids, there were probably about 30 of us," he said.

Today, the congregation of Reach Church is up to nearly 150 on an average Sunday and on the verge of its grandest project to date -- the opening of a permanent worship hall in downtown Dawsonville.

The church, which is currently holding services on the first floor of the Hockenhull building across from United Community Bank in downtown Dawsonville, has leased the former Fred's discount store on Hwy. 53 East and is in the process of transforming the 17,000-square-foot facility.

"The sanctuary we hope will be ready for us to start holding services here in February," Nissen said.

A second component to the ministry is the congregation's plan to open a day care center at the church.

"Growing up with a single parent raising three kids, this is very close to my heart," Nissen said.

The day care center, he said, will offer affordable child care, most likely on a sliding scale based on income.

"We know this is needed in this area, especially downtown. It's always been a part of the vision," he said.

According to Nissen, the day care center will follow state guidelines for child care centers and "hopefully, will be open in time for the next school year to start."

While the church is moving into a permanent facility, Nissen said the mission reaching the ones who need God remains the top focus.

"I don't want the church to be defined by a building, because we've always been a group that's spent more time out there than we do in here," he said. "At least half of our church hasn't been in church until this, so it's spending the time out there to reach people where they are at.

"I say it all the time. It's all about Jesus. People need to know that God is not condemning them, that God loves them and God has a plan for their life and God has a destiny and a purpose for their life."