The congregation of an Augusta County church destroyed in a blaze back in 2011 is celebrating its new home.
Mount Bethel United Methodist Church rebuilt in Crimora and dedicated its sanctuary Sunday afternoon. There was not an empty seat as congregation members filled the sanctuary to dedicate the new church building back to God and the community that has helped them emerge from the ashes.
Judy DeWitt has been a member of Mount Bethel United Methodist Church her entire life.
"I have been here ever since I was born," DeWitt said. "My family lived in the area and I was raised in Harriston, Virginia and I've come to this church ever since."
She has been through Mount Bethel's triumphs and tragedies - the most recent being the blaze that completely destroyed the church in September 2011.
"It was hard in the beginning, the initial shock that it was all gone and then 'oh my we don't have anything left,' but you know what, we did have something left, we had our faith and that's what we took," DeWitt said. "We had faith and hope and we took that and said 'look we're coming back.'"
Pastor Neil McLaughlin and his congregation have come back stronger than ever. Nearly 200 people came out to Sunday's dedication - filled with music and prayer.
"The community has been right there with us, area brothers, other churches and the community itself has been right there with us so they've just been waiting for this day to hear that we're back in the new building and dedicating this to God," McLaughlin said.
The church is debt-free thanks to insurance and fundraising efforts to rebuild this new sanctuary with a new lease on life that will hopefully bring more lifelong members like Judy.
"We're not a large church right now but I'm hoping this is going to end up a large church with lots of little children," DeWitt said.
The new Mount Bethel United Methodist Church has been open for worship services since the first Sunday in December, but Sunday's dedication ceremony was a chance for them to officially give thanks to God and the community.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:36 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:36:22 GMT
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