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Foundation problems halt Maple Springs Church rebuild comment (0)

April 9, 2009

By Jeremy Henderson

The same water that flowed under the 116-year-old foundation of Maple Springs Baptist Church, Clanton, in Chilton Baptist Association as it burned to the ground in late 2007 is keeping it from being rebuilt 16 months later.

Tommy Vines is trying not to let the irony get him down.

“When we got started with our new building, we ran into some foundation problems almost immediately, with there being springs under the building site,” said Vines, the church’s music leader.

The former building was destroyed by arson in the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2007. The case remains unsolved.

The church is rebuilding in almost exactly the same spot, where the old building housed all the portraits of the former pastors and the piano Vines’ wife, Donna, used to play each Sunday. It also housed the old iron-tub baptistry where their two daughters were baptized, the tub beneath that great mural of a stream that looked as though it flowed right into the baptistry.

“Taking care of [the foundation issues] kind of set us back quite a bit financially and time-wise,” Vines said. “We had to go through a process of engineering and testing and actually removing the unsuitable soil and replacing that with engineered material to get that water out of the church site.”

The unforeseen expenses aren’t just costing the church money — they’re preventing the church from saving it, too.

“We had a group of Carpenters for Christ from Eastern Hills Baptist in Montgomery that were going to come and do their summer project here, but we missed their timeline due to this foundation problem,” Vines said. “The most blunt way to put it is that we’re missing out on all this free labor.”

Since the fire, the approximately 30-member congregation has been meeting in the old sanctuary of nearby Samaria Baptist Church, also in Chilton Association. Samaria Baptist offered use of its building the day after Maple Springs Baptist was destroyed, which kept the congregation from missing a single Sunday service.

“They’ve been very gracious in letting us use their facility,” Vines said. “Some of the people at their church went over and put some chairs out and made us feel right at home since the day right after our church burned.”

It feels like home, Vines said, but it isn’t.

“It’s not a complaint at all, but it just doesn’t feel like you can do a whole lot that you might want,” he said, speaking of any of Maple Springs’ special programs that might require Samaria’s fellowship hall. “It’s like inviting somebody to come over to your friend’s house with you.” 

Maple Springs Pastor Roland Davis agreed.

“I’m very appreciative of Samaria,” Davis said. “But where we’re worshiping now, it’s just not in our community. It’s hard to do community outreach if you’re not in the community; that’s the main thing.”

Vines said Sunday morning attendance has dropped slightly and some people have left the church. “But we’ve also had some join.”

Despite having insurance on the old building, the foundation complications with the site and a sluggish economy have left the church’s rebuilding efforts in a state of semilimbo.

“We have erected our building, and we’ve got some interior framing done, and the interior walls are framed up and ready to go,” Vines said. “The point we’re at now is that we’re trying to do our mechanical and plumbing and Sheetrock and stuff like that.

“Of course, we’ve got some things — a local church donated some pews and pulpit furniture that was a big burden lifted off of us — but we still basically have every other speck of stuff you need that has to be purchased.”

Vines said in addition to a parking lot, the new 80-by-80-foot metal building still needs electrical work, plumbing work, Sheetrock, ceilings, paint, floors, furniture for classrooms and the fellowship hall, a piano and equipment for its kitchen.

It’s nothing fancy, he said, just an updated version of the old. 

“The reasoning of our building program is because somebody burned our church,” Vines said. “If that hadn’t happened, we’d still be in the building we were in. I hate to say we’ve bit off more than we can chew, because we know God’s going to provide for us.”

Davis isn’t worried either.

“We’re just trusting in the Lord,” he said. “It’s His building, not ours. We’re still just chompin’ away.”

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