Who is Lydia, and why are we staying at her house?

Lydia is described in the book of Acts as a business woman–a seller of fine purple cloth–and an early convert of the Apostle Paul in the city of Philippi. Upon being baptized, she invited Paul and his companions to stay at her house in an act of genuine hospitality. Acts 16:15 says simply “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay with us.” To which the author of Acts replies “and she persuaded us.”

That’s nice, but what does it mean?

It means we want you to join us in the work happening in Atlanta. As people of faith, it is our conviction to work for justice and equality for all people here and now. You may do this work through partnerships and service opportunities you've already set up, or you may want to participate in one of our urban immersion modules-either is fine by us. We are simply glad to to host and serve those who serve others.

Is this a house, or a church?

In a word, yes. Lydia’s house consists of over 3,500 square feet that was formerly educational space in the top floor of Park Avenue Baptist Church that has been renovated into 3 sleeping rooms and one large “common” (hangout) room for playing board games, a giant game of Scrabble on our Scrabble wall, or as meeting space for group debriefing.

Three rooms–that doesn’t sound very big. How many people can you sleep?

Presently we have enough mattresses and bunk beds for 58 people. There are two large rooms (20′ by 50′) as well as two smaller rooms (20′ by 20′ and 14' by 8')) adjacent the larger sleeping rooms. The two large rooms sleep 22 and 18. The smaller rooms sleep 12 and 6. That gives us a total of 58 beds. We also have a few additional mattresses, so if we need to squeeze a few folks in on the floor we can do that too.

What about leader rooms?

Group insurance plans occasionally necessitate that leaders stay in separate rooms. Unfortunately, our space is not configured very well for this, though on a case-by-case basis we can occasionally accommodate these requests using other spaces in the building, which may incur a small additional fee.

Is there gathering space available?

Sure. We have a large sanctuary that seats 400 people. Unfortunately, our sanctuary was construced in 1937 before the advent of central heating and air-conditioning, which means it’s quite expensive to heat and cool this space. It is available for reservation for an additional $100 per day or $300 for an entire week. Other groups have elected to use the “common” room or the fellowship hall for gathering.

Is there a place to take a shower? What about bathrooms?

Yes. Specifically, there are three showers-depending on group numbers, these typically are split up as two for women and one for men. There are bathrooms for men and women on each floor and an all-gender bathroom on the second floor.

Lodging-check, showers-check, what about food?

In the basement of the church is a large fellowship hall that can accommodate 140 people, as well as a large equipped kitchen. There is separate storage in the hall behind the kitchen for dry goods and supplies for groups staying at Lydia’s House. This space is also used on occasion for other events and weekly AA meetings.. There is no additional charge for use of the kitchen and fellowship hall, however, as it is shared space all cleaning instructions must be strictly followed!

All that in the middle of the city, that’s got to cost a fortune! How much are we talking about here?

You might be surprised. Our fee structure is to charge $15 per person, per night stayed. The bulk (80-90% depending on season) of this fee goes to pay for utilities used during your stay–gas, electricity, and water.

Additionally, to coordinate the logistics of your trip, there is a $50 per group administrative fee (this does not apply to smaller groups of 1-4 persons). Our administrative intern will coordinate all details of your trip, as well as communicating with you to provide directions, forms, information as well as arranging your group and sleeping rooms.

If you wish to partake in any of our Urban Immersion modules there is a $10 fee per person per module. This fee covers honorariums for guest speakers, all educational materials, bible study time and preparation and coordination of ministry sites/”field experiences”. Any “profit” goes directly back into the work of Lydia’s House. We want our work here to be sustainable and practice good stewardship of our resources. We are grateful for groups like you that come and stay with us. Your trust of your financial  resources enable us to continue to serve and expand the reach of Lydia’s House, as well as our free community After-School Program, Community Clothes Closet, and  free Summer Literacy Camps

Example: A weekend Urban Immersion retreat for 20 people would cost as follows:

  • 20 people x 2 nights lodging = 40 nights at $15 a night = $600

  • Administrative Fee–flat rate (regardless of group #) = $50

  • 20 people x 2 modules =$400

  • Total Cost paid to Park Avenue Baptist Church c/o Lydia’s House =$1,050

Please note that this total does not include food costs. When calculating total cost for your group per person (or what to underwrite from budget), transportation and food are not included in this total. Also, groups that are not participating in the Urban Immersion program need not pay for modules but are required to pay the $50 per group administrative fee.

We have made every effort to offer service at fair, below-market value cost, however, we know times and budgets are tight. We are glad to have conversations about the ways to best accommodate your group-just contact us. We will make every effort to work to ensure your group has a positive experience in Atlanta.

What do we do while we’re there?

That’s ultimately up to you as the group leader. It is our primary intention that Lydia’s House be a place where people come and experience the many deep and abiding social issues of our time through service and learning in the city. We do this through several different “modules” that can be tailored to fit your specific trip/retreat needs. For more information on our Urban Immersion program click here . We also regularly have groups coming through town for everything from pre-scheduled choir tours to national conferences going on in Atlanta. We can work to accommodate most any need and any size group, from one to sixty.

What’s nearby?

Lydia’s House and Park Avenue Baptist Church are located directly across the street from Grant Park, Atlanta’s second largest public park.

  • The park features tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, a baseball field and a large open field, a playground, the Grant Park Swimming Pool (open Memorial Day through Labor Day), as well as being home to Zoo Atlanta, a world-class zoo with elephants, giraffes, lions, gorillas and pandas.

  • There are multiple restaurants within comfortable walking distance of the church as well as a 24 hour CVS pharmacy one block from the church.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Center, featuring reflection pool and crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King Jr., as well as moving, comprehensive exhibits of the history of the civil rights movement. Tours of the King childhood home can be scheduled through the National Park Service. Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church is one block from the King Center and open daily by the National Park Service. No scheduling of tours is necessary when visiting Ebenezer. A trip to the King Center is included in the urban immersion module on race and reconcilation.

How do I get there?

  • Google Maps can help you driving folks. The church address is 486 Park Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30312 (don’t forget the SE or you’ll get a very different Park Avenue!)

  • Atlanta has a good local transit system called MARTA. If flying into Hartsfield Jackson Airport (ATL) take MARTA to the Inman Park/Reynoldstown Station. You can take the Red Line from the airport to Five Points Station, then change to the Blue Line going East to King Memorial StationThe station is approximately 1 mile from the church. Directions will be provided to the station from the church. Transportation may be available from the Station to Park Avenue, just contact us first!

Sounds great! How do I book a trip?

Check your dates and availability by clicking the "Availability" link at left. Then click the link on the left entitled “Booking". Fill out the form to help us know a little bit more about your group. We will then follow-up regarding the availability of the dates you are looking to book. Our administrative intern will contact you to confirm your booking. A deposit of $100 secures your dates on our calendar. In the event of needing to cancel or reschedule your group, your deposit will be credited toward the scheduling of a future trip within the next 12 months.

With the notable exception of hosting groups for large conferences in Atlanta, we only book one group at a time, meaning your reservation secures Lydia’s House for your group alone for the confirmed dates. Upon receipt of your deposit you will receive an e-mail from our administrative intern confirming your trip, as well as an informational packet for registering your group, and a detailed timeline of when to turn in names of persons attending, medical release forms, etc.

What is the air-speed velocity of a laden swallow?

Depends…African or European?

I read all of that, and you still didn’t answer my question!!!

Wow, how embarrassing…sorry about that. Please e-mail us at and we’ll do everything we can to answer your questions!

LYDIA'S HOUSE-486 Park Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30312