Graduations in question at Church in the Now

CONYERS -- It appears unlikely the Newton County School System will be able to hold its high school graduation ceremonies in the foreclosed Church In The Now property in Conyers and are considering a new site in May.

"We are awaiting further word on negotiations underway involving the Church in the Now," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews on Monday. "Should these negotiations turn out in such a manner so as to allow the school system to utilize this facility for graduation, we will take advantage of it.

"Otherwise, we certainly do have Sharp Stadium available to us, which would not be unusual at all for a high school graduation to be in the outdoors," Mathews said.

For the past several years, NCSS has held high school graduation ceremonies at CITN, which is located on Iris Drive in Conyers. Rockdale County Public Schools typically hold graduation ceremonies at each of the high school stadiums or gyms.

In May, the graduations for all three high schools were some of the last events held at the church, which was put up for sale on the Rockdale County courthouse steps but later reverted to the mortgage holder, Evangelical Christian Credit Union.

Rockdale County Public Schools typically hold graduation ceremonies at each of the high school stadiums or gyms.

CITN Pastor Jim Swilley still continues to hold services in a smaller building on the church campus, now renamed Church in the Now East.

However, the church no longer has control of the property. Jac La Tour, a spokesman for Evangelical Christian Credit Union, said his company has already turned away a request from the Georgia Career Institute to hold graduations in the main sanctuary. The company preferred not to rent out the buildings to outside groups, La Tour said.

Jeff Meadors, vice chair of the Newton County Board of Education, said he would like graduations to be held at Sharp field to accommodate more guests, if he had a say in the matter, although he said he wouldn't know what the rain plan would be.

"I would like to see it in Newton County," he said. "I'd like to see the students who go to our schools graduate inside the county. ... However, the greatest current insight into proper use of facilities really rests with our superintendent in whom I have utmost trust."

Mathews said in an email to school principals on Monday that students will receive at least as many tickets as last year, and if Sharp Stadium is used, then they will receive even more.

News Editor Jay Jones contributed to this report.