CANTON - Although construction and development surrounds them, Liberty Hill United Methodist Church (now Liberty Hill at the Mill) will remain faithful to the mill. The Mill on Etowah, that is.
Liberty Hill began in 2003, meeting at the Arts Center in downtown Canton. After a short stint there and a few years being planted at Cherokee High School, they came across their current location at the former Canton Textile Mill No. 1, 141 Railroad St. Teresa Abernathy remembers touring different locations and none of them feeling right until they arrived at the mill, “we just knew it was where we were supposed to be,” she remembered.
Although they will be staying at the mill as it is transformed in to a mixed-use destination for retail, dining, office space and a craft brewery, Liberty Hill Church will be moving their home upstairs.
“As it stands at this moment, we will be moving upstairs and we will share that space with Thrive Coworking and another office space company,” Senior Pastor, Leonard Akers said. This move will allow for retail and restaurants to be on the ground level of The Mill at Etowah.
Akers said the decision to stay put was not a difficult one. He explained that when they obtained the space, the then-owners of the mill (the Jones family) had no interest in using the second floor, but the congregation felt a pull to it, “we started praying over it and even drew up some plans for the second floor. So when the new owners came in and were very excited about the possibility of a church being in the middle of all of this, we were very open and available to their ideas. It truly was ‘a God thing.’ They were excited about us being upstairs and we had been praying over it for so long... we feel like the church has been waiting for this opportunity.”
Akers said the impact of the project hasn’t been too intrusive and has mostly affected the amount of space they have to use, “we have given up some space to help them continue to stay on track with timelines.” But Akers clarified that he doesn’t mind sharing the space and says that everyone on the project has been accommodating.
“We just feel really grateful that we don’t have to completely displace ourselves during the construction,” Akers said.
Through the constant construction and work being done, Akers has a strong congregation walking with him through this change.
“All I can say is God is good. We have not seen a drop-off of new visitors or people coming to check us out,” he said.
Akers shared his excitement when it comes to bringing life to the Mill that has been quiet for so many years, “What I think we are most excited about is the opportunity to be a part of a new community. With the new development, there should be people around all the time. That gives us the opportunity to engage with folks in a completely different way than we are able to engage with them now.”
Akers concluded by saying, “we hope that we can be the body of Christ for as many different people as possible.”