Church begins rebuilding following devastating fire
On Sunday, members of the Lebanon First Church of the Nazarene gathered for service at Lebanon Middle school.
They joined together just as they have done every week since their building burned to the ground in August.
The day of the fire, Pastor Richard Burdett made the promise to rebuild, and on Sunday, they took the first step toward building a new church home.
"It's not about us, it's not about a building. It's about a savior," said Pastor Burdett.
"It's a day of excitement," said long time member Sharon Lofton. "If I could I would jump up and down."
Lofton says the past few months leading up to Sunday have strengthened her faith. "It's just a fulfillment of my prayers to God my desire to have our place of worship back," said Lofton.
Instead of falling apart, the church has grown since the fire.
"We've had about a 15-20 percent increase in attendance and about a 10-15 percent increase in finance," said Pastor Burdett.
Ironically, the lack of a building has brought this congregation, this entire community closer together.
"The churches in this community have put their arms around us. They have donated to us, they have offered us equipment they have offered us space," said Lofton.
Over the past few months, people in the community have dropped off donations to help the church rebuild.
"There's times in life when faith is challenged and you can see from this community we are stronger in faith than we have ever been," said Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis.
The first phase of the new building will be complete by next Thanksgiving. In the meantime, this congregation will tell you, they don't have to wait until then to feel thankful.
The first phase of the project will be a family life center. Work on the new sanctuary should start in 2014.