Ms. Mary Lou Edwards, a native Atlantan, met Paramahansa Yogananda in 1945 while on a trip to California, and spent several weeks with him in Encinitas and at Mt. Washington. Yoganandaji made a request of Ms. Edwards that she one day start a group in Atlanta. During their many talks in 1945, he indicated that there would be a temple in Atlanta one day, and she would live to see it built. Ms. Edwards started the first SRF Meditation group in Atlanta in 1971. Three members of Ms. Edward’s first group in Atlanta still attend the Atlanta Center.
In 1972, Brother Anandamoy came to Atlanta and conducted a Kriya Yoga Initiation. Ms. Edwards held group meetings at her home every Thursday evening in northwest Atlanta until about 1975, when circumstances arose that resulted in her having to drop the group. During the next 15 years, various dedicated individuals have led the group meetings in their homes primarily and also in bank community rooms a couple of times per month. The group remained relatively small (10-15 members) during this time period.
Atlanta being a large metropolitan area, in 1991 Mother Center gave permission to start an informal meditation group on the north side of Atlanta. From 1991 to 1995 this group grew from 6 members to over 40 members. In April 1993, Mother Center gave permission for the North Atlanta Meditation Circle to be formed. At the 1995 Convocation, both groups merged together (about 60 members) and all meetings were held at the Chapel the North Atlanta Meditation Circle, established in Dunwoody (1994).
We have been blessed to have had Brother Dharmananda come for a 1992 spring retreat at the Ignatius House, and then again for the 1993 Centennial Tour. It was in a conversation with Brother Dharmananda in 1993 that the “Temple 2000” affirmation was coined in reference to a Yoganandaji’s work growing in Atlanta.
We also have had a visit for the Lake Shrine Project from Brother Achalananda. In 1995 the first SRF Tour in Atlanta was held at the Marriott Century Center Hotel. In 1996, Brother Naradananda conducted a retreat at the Ignatius House. In 1997, Brother Anandamoy conducted an SRF Tour at the Marriott Hotel. In 1998, Devananda conducted a fall retreat at the Calvin Center. In the fall of 1999, Brother Santoshananda conducted an SRF Tour at the Marriott Hotel.
In 2000, we built our new chapel and had the dedication services in November of 2000, which Brother Ishtananda and Sister Subrata conducted, with Brahmachari Kirk and Brahmacharini Diana in attendance.
Many unusual circumstances and the appearance of just the right people came to make the Atlanta Center possible. It was built in less than 9 months after the purchase of the property in January 2000. (See THE BUILDING OF TEMPLE 2000 for the account of how this happened).
The Atlanta Center holds services just as an SRF Temple does. There are Sunday and Thursday services, extended meditation services, commemorative services, a lessons study group, a kirtan group, Sunday school programs, socials, and special events.