Georgia Baptist Mission Board leases building, staff moves off site

DULUTH, Ga. (BP) — A statement sent Dec. 1 to members of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board executive board announced that the board has received “a letter of intent” from a company to build its building “commencing in for the next two months”. ”

Employees, whose numbers have declined over the years following rounds of layoffs and offers of early retirement, will be relocated to two locations.

“The plan is to move the accounting and human resources staff to an office at the Brogdon Exchange in Suwanee,” said W. Thomas Hammond Jr., Executive Director of the Mission Board. “The remainder of the Duluth staff will be relocating to a local church.”

Deputy Executive Director Mark Marshall said the church would likely be identified within the next week, adding that no further details of the lease were available.

The five-story, 175,000-square-foot building at 6405 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth is located in a desirable real estate sector of Gwinnett County across from the Gas South District, which includes an arena, convention center and theater.

The building includes a 55-foot cross in a pond out front, a chapel, meeting rooms, and a two-story parking deck. Messengers from Georgia Baptists dedicated the $43.5 million facility at their 2006 annual meeting.

“It is projected that moving out of the Sugarloaf building could save the Mission Board hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in utility, maintenance and operational costs,” the statement to EC members read.

The state leadership began considering the sale of the building a decade ago. A deal was signed with a buyer in April 2021 but fell through after the Gwinnett County Commission rejected a rezoning proposal as key to the sale.

Layoffs have been necessary in recent years, executives said, due to a sluggish economy, declining donations under the cooperative program and a pattern of overspending.

Layoffs began in early 2019. In November 2020, 50 employees were offered early retirement to “right-size” the company’s finances. This summer, a budget adjustment in the middle of the year led to 14 positions – some of which were already vacant – being cut.

Currently, according to Marshall, “about 30” full-time employees work in the building every day, with another 35 to 40 working mostly across the state. There are about 32 others on a part-time or contract basis.

“It makes sense to properly size our office space,” Hammond said. “That is sensible. Especially since many of our employees are already working away from the office and in the field.”

At the start of 2021, GBMB staff were centralized on the fifth floor, previously designated as the Executive Space. No other groups subsequently rented the vacant floors, Marshall said.

The Georgia Baptist Foundation, a separate organization that works with the GBMB and churches across the state, stayed on its floor but moved out of the building in recent months.