A Catholic congregation is buying the former Apostles Church building in Sandy Springs, which closed amid financial turmoil, and will hold its first Mass there May 14.

The former Apostles Church building at Glenridge and Hammond drives in Sandy Springs. (Google Earth)

St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church is moving into the Sandy Springs building from its current location in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood.

Apostles Church, a Lutheran congregation, ran into trouble after building a large new church in 2010 on its prime location at Glenridge and Hammond drives. The congregation did not grow enough to support the expensive building, officials previously said. Last year, a plan to redevelop the property into luxury senior housing failed amid intense community opposition.

For St. Joseph, the Sandy Springs location offers a bigger church closer to where many of the 200 to 250 families of parishioners live, according to pastor Rev. Dominique Hanna.

“It’s a bittersweet move,” Hanna said of his century-old church’s big change, noting that many congregants have held baptisms, weddings and funerals at the Little Five Points site. That Atlanta property will become the new home of Druid Hills Preschool, he said.

The St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church’s soon-to-be-former home in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood. (Google Earth)

The Apostles Church property includes a preschool as well, the Apostles Learning Center, which operated separately from the congregation. That preschool will stay as a tenant, Hanna said.

“The school will be around, absolutely,” he said. The Learning Center’s administration declined comment.

The fate of the Apostles Church as a congregation is unclear. The church’s office phone is disconnected, its website is down, and a lawyer and a real estate broker who previously represented them could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I think they just faded away,” Hanna said, adding he is not concerned that St. Joseph could also be taking on an oversized church building. “We will be OK,” he said. “[Apostles] took such a big loan …. Our loan will be very small.”

Meanwhile, Hanna and his congregation are focused on the transition. How do you move a church with all of its unusual equipment and items?

“I’ll tell you after we move,” Hanna said with a laugh. “We are moving the stained glass window,” and trying to move a 1958 marble altar, he added.

St. Joseph is scheduled to formally close on the Apostles property purchase on May 5, according to a church bulletin, and move in time for the Sunday Mass on May 14. A formal opening ceremony, with a visiting bishop blessing the altar, will follow sometime later.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.