Faith in Atlanta

As Atlanta diversifies, Sunday isn’t the only day of worship anymore. A photo essay by Curtis Compton. The first installment in our Every Day Is Sunday series, examining the changing religious landscape of metro Atlanta.

Georgia is among the top 10 states for weekly church attendance. Forty-one percent of Georgians go to church at least once a week, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. In a 2013 Gallup poll, 52 percent of Georgians identified themselves as “very religious.”

While the majority of Georgia’s devout are Christian, there has long been a strong Jewish presence in metro Atlanta. And as we evolve toward being a global city, other religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism have established significant congregations.

Today we launch an occasional series called Every Day is Sunday with a photo essay by Curtis Compton who looks at the myriad ways metro Atlantans observe their religions.

Former President Jimmy Carter opens his Sunday-school lesson on Father’s Day with a prayer in the sanctuary of Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains in 2014.

Cara Johnson-Malbrough claps and sings along with the choir during the Entrance Service at the new Mount Vernon Baptist Church on Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015.

Norman Asher, 79, says in the Jewish religion that placing a stone on top of a headstone signifies a family member or close friend has visited the grave. Here, he places a stone at Oakland Cemetery on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

Jessie Sears (from left), Tania Biggs and Jenna Betz join in meditation during "Welcome Wednesday" in the Meditation Hall at Georgia Meditation Center on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

A statue of Buddha sits on the stage during "Welcome Wednesday" in the Meditation Hall at Georgia Meditation Center on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

Worshipers join in the Janazah funeral prayer for Muhammad Ali at the conclusion of a memorial service at the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam in June.

Venerable Nicholas Thanissaro leads meditation during Welcome Wednesday in the Meditation Hall at Georgia Meditation Center, a Thai Buddhist temple in Atlanta.

The processional enters the worship hall for the celebration of the eucharist and the rite of blessing the Right Reverend Augustine Myslinski as the Eight Abbott of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, in Conyers.

Dilawar Naqvi concludes his evening prayers in the Aza Khana, the holiest and most sacred area of the mosque, at Dar-e ‘Abbas Islamic Shia Center on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Lilburn.

The Right Rev. Augustine Myslinski lies prostrate during his rite of blessing ceremony as he becomes the new abbot at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.

A couple is baptized following a worship service at Victory World Church in Norcross on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016.

The sun sets over the angel that tops the Charles Boynton monument in Oakland Cemetery on Feb. 16, 2014.

The grave of a slave from the 1800s, marked with a small white cross, is illuminated by a shaft of sunlight breaking through the trees in the wooded section of the cemetery at the historic Campbellton United Methodist Church in Fairburn. The church was organized in 1830.

The Holy Bible sits on the communion table for the Palm Sunday service at Second Ponce De Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta on Sunday, March 29, 2015.

Before its demolition for the construction of the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium, Mount Vernon Baptist Church concluded its final worship service with a symbolic exit ceremony in March 2014. The church is now located at 815 Lynhurst Drive SW.

Mary Meehan prepares the sacraments for Communion for homebound members of All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody.

Mary Meehan (left) delivers Communion to Polly Dodd, 98, at her home in Dunwoody last month. Meehan, 76, leads the homebound ministry for All Saints Catholic Church. “She brings church to me,” said Dodd. “Without her Sundays would not be Sunday.”

Jay Hill rings the bell to call campers to worship at the Smyrna Presbyterian Church camp meeting in Conyers in June 2014.

A group on a guided walking tour take in the monument of an angel on the grave of Mary Glover Thurman at Oakland Cemetery in 2014.

A congregant reads from the Pentateuch, also known as the Torah, during a service at Congregation Beth Jacob, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, in August 2016.


Sunday may be the prominent day of worship in Atlanta, but that’s changing as a growing number of other religions establish congregations in our global city. This is an occasional series that examines how religion impacts life in Atlanta.


► 1 sanctuary, 6 churches: Harmonious diversity

► Identifying ourselves by religion and politics

► Atlanta’s growing number of nonbelievers


Curtis Compton joined the AJC as a photo editor in 1993 before returning to the field as a staff photographer. Previously he worked for the Gwinnett Daily News, United Press International and the Marietta Daily Journal. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and won a World Hunger Award for his coverage of the famine in Sudan.