Mount Paran satellite church marks 25 years

Name: Mount Paran North Church of God -- Marietta and Canton campuses

Address: 1700 Allgood Rd. Marietta, GA 30062

Phone: 770-578-9081

Website: www.mtparan.com

Services: Marietta Campus: Sunday, 9 and 10:30 a.m. Marietta campus; 10:30 a.m. Canton campus.

Worship style: Blend of sacred hymns and contemporary choruses expressed in formats ranging from choir and orchestra to small ensembles and acoustic-led worship bands.

Average Sunday Attendance: 1,800

Minister: Rev. Mark Walker, Ph.D.

Denomination Affiliation: Church of God

Mission statement:

"Engage Life Together: Helping people live a Christ-centered life"

History:

Mount Paran North opened in 1987 as a second campus to Mount Paran Central on Mount Paran Road in Atlanta. The Rev. Paul Walker served as the senior pastor of both locations for 37 years before leaving in 1997 when he was elected to be the General Overseer of the Church of God denomination. At that time, the North and Central locations became separate entities, and his son, the Rev. Mark Walker, who had been North's associate pastor since 1992, became the senior pastor at North.

A celebration is planned Aug. 26, when a combined service at 10:30 a.m. will commemorate 25 years at the Allgood Road location.

Pastor's path:

Although Walker comes from four generations of ministers, he pursued a career in business after earning an undergrad degree in business at Georgia State. After three years of working in the business world, he said he felt God calling him to ministry. The pastor also has a master's degree in counseling and a Ph.D. in organizational leadership.

Ministries:

Within the church walls, Walker counts the Sunday worship service and the counseling ministry, which includes paid counselors and trained lay leaders, as the most impactful.

"The folks who regularly attend really come [to worship] to engage God and to learn the word and to really love each other. They come as a caring, worshipping community. On Sunday mornings, so much happens in people's lives by the work of God," said Walker.

In the community, church members tutor schoolchildren, provide lunches and food for lower-income families in the schools and assist single parents and elderly who need help with basic home repair or yard work.

A partnership with the Marietta Housing Authority results in a back-to-school event each year that provides 800-1,000 children with everything they need to start the school year, including backpacks and supplies, health exams and other essentials.

Internationally, the church supports 14 missionaries in 13 countries and regularly sends mission teams to build churches, dig wells and offer medical support and educational opportunities.

"Our church is such a giving, loving people. That's the thrill of being a part of this group of folks," said Walker.

Thoughts from the pastor:

"It's my great privilege and honor to serve as the senior pastor of Mount Paran North. They are amazing people who are in my heart forever. I thrive on working together with them to truly make a positive transformational difference in the lives of people in our surrounding community and around the world."