BANNERTOWN — Sometimes God works in ways that are mysterious, but He always has a plan.
That was the message Pastor Mickey Cogdill gave his congregation at Bannertown Baptist Church on Sunday.
“We must give praise to the Lord,” explained Cogdill. “In a really mysterious way, He has placed us in this position.”
On Sunday, members gathered in the area where a sanctuary once stood, and with golden shovels they broke ground on a new facility, rebuilding one destroyed by fire nearly two years ago.
In November 2015, church-goers were finishing up Bible study when somebody noticed smoke emerging from the church’s sanctuary. Mount Airy Fire Department personnel and other area departments responded to the scene.
However, Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said the fire had made its way into the attic of the building, which was built in 1906. The building was soon engulfed in flames, and firefighters turned their attention to saving the remainder of the church — its new sanctuary and a hallway attaching the two structures.
By night’s end, the congregation had lost its historical sanctuary, and smoke had damaged the rest of the church. Since then, the smoke damage has been repaired, and the remnants of the former sanctuary, which housed the student ministries and other programs, has been demolished.
Cogdill wanted everyone to remember what once stood on the premises.
“It’s important not to forget the impact of our ministries dating back all the way to 1906,” said Cogdill. “Lives were transformed in that building. Some here may have been baptized in that building. Weddings were performed in it, and some may have even attended funerals in there.”
“It has affected this whole community,” added Cogdill.
Cogdill said God had a plan, though, and the fire has now paved the way for something new at the church. However, what will eventually stand where the old sanctuary stood will serve the same purpose as its predecessor.
“The function of that building was to meet with the Lord and also have great fellowship,” Cogdill told his congregation. “Now we embark on this new building, but the function remains the same.”
Sam Holder, who serves on the church’s building vision committee, said the church will soon begin construction on a new education and fellowship center.
Holder said the church demolished two additional properties it owns to pave the way for the new structure. One property was serving as the church offices and another was vacant. Those properties and the ground which was once home to the old sanctuary will host the 7,700-square-foot facility, which will include six classrooms, a large gathering space with a kitchen and new offices.
Holder said the church has a pool of money from the insurance payout from the loss of the building which burned and fundraising efforts. However, it has financed some of the construction costs. Fundraising efforts will continue until the building is built and the loan paid off.
Construction should wrap up around spring of 2018, added Holder.
“God has blessed us and unified us,” Holder told the congregation on Sunday.
One group which could have suffered greatly from the loss of the 1906 sanctuary actually prospered when faced with adversity.
The building was utilized by the church’s student ministries, and when it burned to the ground, those youngsters found themselves without a venue for their program.
“We have actually grown the student ministry,” said youth Pastor Matt Bunker. “I’m proud of our students, and I am blessed to be a part of it.”
Bunker said the church leased what is now the Fountain of Life Worship Center to hold services and house the church’s many programs while smoke damage was being repaired. Other area churches also offered their facilities for use.
Before those students and other members of the church bit into the earth with their shovels, Cogdill read two verses from the Book of Ezra.
“Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord according to the directions of King David of Israel,” Cogdill read.
“They sang, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, saying, ‘For He is good, for His loving kindness is upon Israel forever.’ And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.”
With that, the congregation yelled, “Praise the Lord,” and the first shovels entered the ground, marking the beginning of progress on Bannertown Baptist’s new structure.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.