In 1967, four Gainesville city churches set out to establish a means by which to offer local students voluntary classes in religion. Since then, the Center has expanded its programs beyond religious education to include student and family counseling, student mentoring, and programs covering substance abuse prevention.
The origins of the Center can be traced back to a conversation between a local Gainesville-city parishioner and his pastor concerning the religious education of Christian youth. It was viewed that religious education as it was offered through church via Sunday School was not adequate to student’s needs and that one answer to the problem “would be to place [such education] on a competitive basis with public education through [a system known as] released time.” As the vision came into focus, monies were raised and land was purchased adjacent to Gainesville High School. Soon, other local-area churches expressed interest in the venture and gave their support. The result: a community organization governed by a board of trustees, representing the churches of First Presbyterian, First Methodist, St. Paul Methodist, and Grace Episcopal. The center was incorporated in 1967 as “The Christian Education Centers, Inc.” Despite delays in construction, the Center opened its doors to students in January of 1969.
The Middle Years
Seeing firsthand the various issues and dilemmas faced by students and their families, the Center decided in 1985 to expand its services to the community to include student and family counseling. Later, in 1994, in an effort to connect students with positive and encouraging role models, the mentor program was established. In 2001, the Center came full circle with the creation of the prevention program. Two years later, in order to account for the diversity of programs that it now offered, the Center formally adopted its current name—Center Point.
Center Point has been seeking to serve the citizens of Gainesville City and Hall County for over 45 years. Though originally the brainchild of a few local churches, created with the purpose of providing off-site religion classes to public school students, the Center has slowly transformed into arguably the Hall County’s most successful and diverse student-and-family-centered non-profit. Our mission is simple: enhance, strengthen, and change lives. This is what we are doing and what we will continue to do for years to come.