LAUREL HILL – This Resurrection Sunday, parishioners at Woodville Pentecostal Holiness Church will celebrate the rebirth of their church as they hold their first service in the new 7,200-square-foot church with a sanctuary that seats 270 people.
Woodville’s original building, constructed in 1943, burned to the ground in July of 2015 following a revival service. Guest Pastor Keith Speed of Belton, South Carolina spotted smoke coming from the church and alerted Woodville’s Pastor Gerald Goins. The blaze was so large it took fire crews from across Scotland County along with crews from Hoke, and Robeson counties most of the night to extinguish the flames. The cause of the fire was determined to be an electrical issue.
Following a long set of trials, the building will be reborn this Easter.
“That’s as good a Sunday as anyone could ask for, Resurrection Sunday,” Goins said. “A year and a half ago everybody was low down in the dumps.”
With only their small fellowship hall left standing, Woodville’s members had few options. They could disband and let members attend other churches hoping they would return when the new building was complete. They could borrow another church and work their services around that church’s schedule, or they could squeeze into the fellowship hall and press on. They choose the latter option.
Many in the congregation didn’t like the idea of dispersing, so with the support of other churches and county residents they assembled donated furniture and equipment and pressed on.
The congregation typically averaged 112 people, so using the fellowship hall was a challenge.
A few members decided to attend services elsewhere due to the lack of space, and the congregation dropped to around 80, said parishioner Jody Deaton. Those who left assure Deaton that they will return once the new church opens.
The flock didn’t let a smaller building and construction get in the way of their regular church activities. They still held regular Sunday school and services as well as special services for Easter, Christmas and Veterans Day. They also continued to support Falcon Children’s home, a summer camp, and held fundraisers to support others in the community. One member, Kenley Snead, even started a youth group last year growing youth attendance from 10 teens and preteens to 30.
Goins believes the adversity has made the church stronger.
“We’ve grown closer together in unity,” he said. “It seems like as strong a bond as there’s ever been since the nine years I’ve been here.”
Woodville faced other challenges during construction.
The first was demolition of the remains of the old building. The fire was so devastating that only one window pane and a marble block were salvageable. The next part of the process was to select a committee to oversee the construction, budget, paperwork and required permits.
The committee broke ground in February of last year. There were a few minor setbacks, but things progressed smoothly until October when Hurricane Matthew blew into the state, knocked out power and inundated the area with water.
“That set us back about a week,” Goins said. “We were without power for seven or eight days.”
Construction pressed on and the members soon realized that they might be able to have their first service in the new church on Easter.
A number of people pitched in to complete the final details needed to get the building ready.
“It’s been a struggle to try to accomplish that goal, but we did,” Deaton said. “We have risen from the ashes.”
One of the church’s goals was to get into the new building without taking on any debt, and they have managed to do that, according to Goins.
The insurance settlement on the old building did not cover the $1 million price tag on the new structure, but thanks to the efforts of the congregation’s plate sales and donations from local residents and other churches Woodville church’s new building is debt free.
“When we hit that building, it’ll be a turnkey, paid for job thank the good Lord,” Goins said.
To memorialize the old church the marble block that was saved has been incorporated into the vestibule just past the entry doors, and the windowpane will be incorporated into artwork for display in the church.
The members of Woodville invite the community to join them when they exchange the ashes of their old church for the joy of a new building this Resurrection Sunday.
Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and Sunday services are at 11 a.m. at 12581 Sneadtown Road.
The building will be officially dedicated on May 21.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169