Church is the last place I ever thought I’d head as a single woman looking for new connections.
Let me explain. I’m spiritual, but I didn’t grow up with any formal religious ties. And I’ve been hesitant to even consider checking out a church service because I’m worried about people pushing their spiritual agenda on me.
But after hearing several ringing endorsements from friends about Buckhead Church, a nondenominational congregation that is part of North Point Ministries, I decided to take a closer look at the programming for singles.
“In the past, our singles environments more similar to Bible studies,” says Michael Kanner, Singles Gatherings director. “But now they are focused on creating social connections, regardless of whether someone attends our church.”
There are three types of Gatherings: Serve (activities focus on serving the community), Experience (various social outings) and Explore (opportunities for roundtable talks on subjects such as why we love or what makes a good life). Each Gathering consists of about 40 to 60 people, lasts six weeks and is held weekly, typically on Saturday or Sunday.
“These events are easy-going and composed of like-minded individuals who seek great friends,” Kanner says. “If there are any opportunities to meet a potential partner, we believe that starts with friendship.”
For example, there are get-togethers for people who like to eat brunch or, if you’d prefer to be part of the Service Gatherings, you can join one that works with an area nonprofit. Last but not least, the Explore group focus on activities such as watching Ted Talk videos and roundtable discussions—these are the only Gatherings held on Wednesdays and at the church.
To register for a six-week Gathering, head to Buckheadsingles.org, search through the options, and find the type of event that best suits your age, interest and availability. Some cost a small fee (think the cost of a meal), but most are free.
I experienced two: a sampler where participants get to try activities from a variety of Gathering options and one for those who like friendly sports competition. Participants are limited to joining one Gathering per each six-week cycle.
The sampler was geared toward people ages 25 to 45, and the afternoon’s activities were focused around a recorded Ted Talk about happiness followed by roundtable discussions about the talk, which were held at the church. The other Gathering was at Midtown’s Top Golf and was for folks in their 20s.
Prior to my outings, Kanner told me that the goal of these events is first and foremost to bring together like-minded individuals, regardless of religion. But I really had to see it with my own eyes.
I left the Gatherings feeling like I’d made a few new friends, without anyone trying to get me to church—and telling my mother that I finally might consider learning more about joining a church.
3336 Peachtree Road N.E.
STORY: Amelia Pavlik
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna