Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Simon.
Donna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Galilee Way of the Cross Church was founded by our Presiding Bishop Alphonzo Brooks from Washington, DC 29 years ago. He traveled from Washington DC to Atlanta on Sunday afternoons to carry on a ministry here in the heart of Atlanta.
The ministry began to grow and Galilee purchased a sanctuary on Hollywood Road for the growing ministry. The traveling became a bit much for Bishop Brooks because he was already pastoring a church in Washington, DC. So he had one our senior elders to come to keep the work of the ministry going. For 4 years the senior Elder Walter Thompson carry on the work. After four years it was time for Elder Thompson to go back to Washington. Galilee needed a pastor so a team came every weekend from Washington. My husband Pastor Carlos Simon was part of the team. The calling and the burden came overwhelming for Pastor Simon. He accepted the call in 1996 from God and continue to build on the foundation that was already established.
In 2005 investors came to us and wanted our property the trustee board felt it was the right time for the move. So we began to search out properties and locations in various parts of Atlanta. We were able to secure a property located in College Park, GA. We were able to purchase 2.2 acres of land with 2 houses and an old store on the property. The vision was to build from the beginning. Galilee has been a beacon light in the community from the time purchase and the move to the location. We had services in one of the houses. We bought a tent that seated 130 people and every summer we would set the tent up and minister under the tent to let people know in the community that there is a church for you. We not only gave the Word of God but we ministered to their natural needs such as counseling, food pantry, and clothing.
Galilee went through a lot preparing for the build, zoning, site plans, all kinds of opposition was facing us. We kept at it and God gave us favor to finally build a new edifice that now seats 186 people. We recently got our final occupancy permit in March 2017. We are continuing the work of the ministry. So grateful for the opportunity to serve the people in College Park, GA.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
NO, it has by no means been a smooth road. Galilee is located on a state highway so we had to go through a lot of work getting site plans to line up with what the state requires and what we could afford. Many times we felt like giving up but God always had a witness that push us through. Not only was the approval process hard we faced challenges with individuals breaking into our facility and stealing our property. It was a period in our time that we had 10 robberies in a 6-month time frame. It was so bad that we were on Fox 5 news. The person was finally caught and served his time in prison.
We had a hard time securing finances with a bank to lend us money to build. Most of the time the banks wanted someone that had the income to secure the note. All we had was equity in the property but that wasn’t good enough. It was a challenge because most of our members didn’t have the money to help us secure the loan as guarantor. We finally met a company that gave us a chance and we able to start work on the vision.
Please tell us about Galilee Way of the Cross Church.
Galilee Way of the Cross Church is a nonprofit ministry. We minister to individuals spiritual needs through preaching and teaching the Word of God. We are must proud of seeing lives changed through the Word of God. We also are known in the community for an outstanding children ministry. We have a ministry called “What About the Children Ministry.”
Our focus is to make sure the children get a good hot breakfast every Sunday before service. We teach them Bible stories by having craft activities and doing lessons. Also, they learn how to sing and quote scriptures. This helps to build their self-esteem.
We love people and we have a passion for what God has called us to do. It takes time and love for the people. I believe that is what sets us apart. A time of prayer is important to keep us going.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood is being a Pastor’s daughter that worked hard in the church. As the daughter of a Pastor that was so strict and had strong rules for holy moral living. My parents were very strong people that set the standard high for our family. I am thankful and grateful for my upbringing. The scriptures tells us to train up a child in the way he should go and when that child is old he won’t depart from it.
- Address: 2677 Roosevelt Hwy
College Park, GA 30337
- Website: galileewotcc.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Galilee Way of the Cross Church of Christ