What is the Cathedral of Christ the King?
The Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta (“CTK”) is a great Catholic church with a variety of involvement opportunities to offer for every age group. For example, Christ the King has one of the most vibrant Catholic 20s and 30s young adult groups in the city with regular events, both formal and informal. It sits on what some people refer to as “church row” between GA 400 and I-85, right off of Peachtree Road, just outside of the heart of Buckhead. The main chapel is long and skinny, with beautiful pillars and stained glass, and the artwork is breathtaking.
The greatest advantage of making Christ the King home is the number of masses available to attend on a given weekend. There are two Spanish masses each weekend, a vigil at 5 pm on Saturday, and another mass at 1:30 pm Sunday. There are also six English services over the weekend, with two options for 10:30 am Sunday mass. The earliest mass is at 7:30 am on Sunday morning, and the final Sunday mass is at 6:00 pm Sunday evening. These masses offer a wide range of liturgical options, so there really is a mass for nearly everyone.
Skip to: Church Size | Leadership | Goals & Objectives | Dress Code | Worship & Music Style | What to Expect | Doctrine | Messages | Demographics | Atmosphere | Find Your Community | Local Outreach | Other Fun Facts | Contact & Social Accounts
Christ the King is the mother church for the one million members of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta. However, not all one million members attend this particular parish, of course. At present, it has over 5,500 families and is one of the largest congregations in the United States. They also have an attached school with hundreds enrolled.
The layout of Christ the King makes it seem very large when you first enter, but you’ll find from attending mass there, that the main chapel is actually relatively intimate. The pews are close together simply to make enough room available to get everyone in; at times, the roughly 500 seats will be completely filled, thus creating standing room only during the popular times on Sunday morning. While it looks like a large church from the outside, and if you walk into it when it’s empty, you’ll find that in fact, it’s not as big as it seems. Once you become a part of this church community, you will almost always spot someone you know at any event you attend.
The church is led by Monsignor Frank McNamee, though officially it is run by Archbishop Wilton Gregory. Monsignor Frank takes care of all of the day-to-day operations of the church, including new construction projects, and is in charge of the staff. One of the first things you’ll notice about Monsignor Frank is his accent, as he wasn’t born in the US. He’s actually a native of Ireland, who now calls Georgia home. His signature is the pre-homily joke, which almost always gets a good laugh.
Goals & Objectives
According to Christ the King’s website, “As a parish family, we have strived to witness to Christ’s love for over 80 years. Together, we seek to know, love, and serve as Jesus did.”
Their service comes in various forms through over 100 ministries. There is a ministry for just about everyone. To list them all here would take quite a bit of time, but the shortlist is as follows: Adult Formation and Initiation, Family and Children, Liturgy, Music, Outreach, Parish Life, Pastoral Care, Recreation, Stewardship (Time and Talent), Youth, and Hispanic Ministries.
The dress code at Christ the King varies from mass to mass. For the Sunday morning masses, it’s suggested that you dress business casual at a minimum. You would definitely be under-dressed in jeans and a t-shirt for one of those services, though men can pull off jeans and a polo or button-down. The evening services on Saturday and Sunday are far more casual, with the 4 pm Saturday and 6:00 pm Sunday being very much come as you are. Christmas and Easter masses provide an opportunity for everyone to wear their very best, and most everyone does.
Worship & Music Style
Christ the King offers every music style possible depending on the weekend, and if the choirs are in session. If you want no music at all, 4 pm on Saturday is for you. Is contemporary praise and worship music your thing? You should go to the 4 pm Sunday service for the LifeTeen mass. If you like the traditional hymns, you’ll find that 9:00 and 10:30 Sunday are for you. For the traditional masses, professional musicians are paid to play the organ and sing when the choir is in session.
What to Expect
Despite having its own parking garage, parking can still become an issue if you arrive during a more busy morning mass or large event. Traffic can build up on the roads outside because it’s allowed to park in the right lane on Peachtree on weekends, which can create bottlenecks. It’d be smart to arrive 5-10 minutes early to make sure you get a spot (and a seat)! Since Christ the King has so much going on all the time, its schedule runs like a well-oiled machine, so things tend to start promptly and end on time.
When you arrive for mass, you should head inside and find a pew to sit in. Some people will stand out in the reception area on the right side of the church to meet with the people they’re waiting for. If you don’t arrive early for Sunday morning services, it’s highly advised to simply sit immediately.
The mass begins with a greeting, moving into an act of contrition, recitation or singing of the Gloria prayer, and three readings from the Bible. The final reading is always a Gospel reading, again as per Catholic Tradition. Homilies are typically based at a minimum on the Gospel of the day. Normally the priests will attempt to tie the messages of the readings together, as the readings will often have similar messages from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Gospel. Should a Deacon give the homily, he may deviate from this structure, but both situations are uncommon unless there is something specifically going on that the church feels the need to address. A profession of faith follows the homily and kicks off the next part of the liturgy, known as the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Finally, the service ends with the words “Go in peace…”. A final hymn will be sung, and it’s considered impolite to leave before the priest, but it happens frequently enough that if you’re in a hurry to go, you can leave once the music starts. People will often congregate outside and talk after church, and you can take a moment to shake the priest’s hand and thank him or ask for a blessing if you’d like.
As the seat of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Christ the King does not deviate strongly from Catholic Tradition. Non-Catholics are encouraged to pray and participate in all aspects of the Liturgy of the Eucharist except for actually receiving during communion. There are multiple reasons for this, but the simplest one to explain is that Catholics believe that the Eucharist is a gift from Christ of his actual body and actual blood present in the bread and wine. A great deal of understanding and teaching is required, and so it is important that you please not receive if you are a guest. If you would like to receive, ask about joining the Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults, or RCIA. If you can’t receive and do believe, take a moment to pray to Jesus while is right in front of you; You may also walk up with those receiving, and place your arms over your chest in order to receive a special blessing. After the Eucharist, the mass ends quickly with a concluding prayer and blessing.
The message of Christ the King is centered on Christ and the Gospel. It’s rare that the message will deviate from the gospel for the day, but if it does, it does so because there is a large particular issue that the priest feels is both good and healthy to address and to tie in what is going on outside in our own lives with Christ’s message. Homilies normally address the three readings of the day. These readings are usually readings on the new testament in the light of the old testament, and the way that Jesus fulfilled the old testament covenant by bringing forth the new covenant.
The average member of Christ the King is middle to upper class and white, or Hispanic. There is a very good blend of every generation, but there are definitely more females in their 20s and 30s than males who are in regular attendance. Due to the fact that there is a service for everyone, you will find that unmarried young adults will commonly go to one service (5:45 pm or 6:00 pm), married young adults to another (10:30 am), families with children to another (9 am or 10:30 am in Kenny Hall or 4 pm in the main chapel), and older generations to another (7:30 am and noon). The 10:30 Sunday service provides the best blend of who truly attends Christ the King, with all of the people of Christ the King being represented in that service on a weekly basis.
Christ the King is a large community, and newcomers sometimes may feel left out if they don’t have children enrolled in the school, or if they aren’t involved in any of the other activities that occur in the Church. As you leave, you will notice people stopping to say hello to one another as if they’ve known each other for years. Many of them have. The best guidance to overcome the feeling of being left out should you attend is to get involved. You will find a home quickly here if you do get involved, and every service will feel like it is spent with family.
Find Your Community
There are many ministries that make being a part of this parish easier, allowing you to get to know people well and join the community. Small groups are very popular, and a great way to meet people and establish community. Another way to find yourself involved and to establish community is to join one of the bi-annual Welcome retreats. The retreats focus on building community and getting to know the men or women you attend church with.
If you’re a young adult, getting involved with the CTK 20 / 30 Somethings will introduce you to a bunch of people your same age. This group tends to skew single relationship status-wise and organizes regular activities from social, liturgical, service, and more. Whether you stay actively involved in that group or not, it’s a great place to start and meet people who can introduce you to other ministries they’re a part of. You can also volunteer to be a LifeTeen Core member to help with the teen ministry. Most of the Core members are young adults, so that’s another place to serve the youth and also meet fellow Core leaders who are around the same age and often newer to town.
Check out many of Christ The King’s ministries and activities here: Christ the King Ministries and Activities
Many of the ministries focus on outreach. The Knights of Columbus are very involved in volunteering in the community, as is the 20’s and 30’s group, with their monthly or bi-monthly service projects. Groups are frequently volunteering at the food bank or the soup kitchen as well, and a group gets together through the summer to make sandwiches for children who will go without a school lunch through the summer.
Other Fun Facts
Most events that involve fellowship are also accompanied by light hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Alcohol, while sometimes provided, is typically kept to a minimum, and drunkenness is not tolerated.
Additionally, the parish of Christ the King was established in 1936. Architect Henry D. Dagit, Jr., designed the sanctuary in the Gothic Revival (French Neo-Gothic) style with touches of Art Deco in the interior, especially on the stone reredos. The stained glass windows (restored in 2015-16) are works of the Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia. A 1939 issue of Architectural Record called it the “Most Beautiful Building in Atlanta”. (Wikipedia)
Contact & Social Accounts
- Website: cathedralctk.com
- Address: 2699 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30305
- Phone: 404-233-2145
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social & Other
Still Have Questions?
Others probably do too! Ask your question below in the comments section and one of our writers, editors, community members, church leaders, etc. will reply back. That way, you get a direct response and everyone else who is curious about the same thing will be able to keep up with and participate in the discussion – don’t be shy!