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Moundville’s Pleasant Hill rebuilds after suspicious firecomment (0)

February 17, 2011

By Neisha Fuson

The four deacons reverently made their way toward the altar, Communion plates in hand. Their feet moved in unison as they walked shoulder to shoulder. One man handed the bread plate to the pastor; he took the bread and prayed as the congregation remembered Christ. The first Communion in Pleasant Hill Baptist Church’s new building was a meaningful event.

On April 14, 2009, the Moundville church burned to the ground. Authorities suspected arson because the fire started in both wings of the church, which also had been robbed the night before. The case is still open.

Assured by God’s sovereignty, Pastor Chuck Weaver and his congregation did not give up. Two weeks after the fire, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) provided a mobile chapel, courtesy of Cooperative Program funding.

The Hale Baptist Association church missed only two Sundays of worship; it began gathering again May 3 in the mobile chapel on its property.

In March 2010, 112 Carpenters for Christ volunteers, Bold Mission Builders and Johnson City Brick Layers of Tennessee began constructing a new building, a task that seemed impossible for the rural church. Rebuilding came with the hefty price tag of $125 per square foot.

“We didn’t know all it would take to rebuild but God did,” SBOM Disaster Relief Strategist Mel Johnson said.

The community and other churches also served Pleasant Hill Baptist in its time of need. Moundville United Methodist Church and Indian Mounds Baptist Church, Moundville, provided housing, showers and food for the volunteers who came to construct the building.

After many prayers, lots of planning and thousands of hammered nails, more than 200 people gathered Feb. 6, 2011, for the building dedication service. Smiles, hugs and tears filled the sanctuary that still smelled of fresh paint. “Keep me in your will, so I won’t get in your way” played through the sound system as Weaver made his way to the front.

“That song’s been our theme song around here since the fire,” he said.

“Without Him, nothing you see today would be possible,” Weaver shared through tears. “We got out of His way and let Him do what He wanted. Today we’re here to celebrate Him.”

But the dedication service was not just for the church building.

“Before you got here, this was just a building,” Weaver said to those in attendance. “You are the church. We can dedicate this new, beautiful space, but it can’t go out and tell others about Jesus.

“As I see you examining this building, I challenge you today to examine yourselves and see how you measure up,” he said. “I challenge you to dedicate yourselves today and say, ‘Unless the Lord builds me, I build in vain.’”

Bill Wallace, director of missions for Hale and Cahaba associations, was one of those in attendance.

“The spirit here is amazing. I’m grateful to God for what He’s doing in this church,” Wallace said, noting that as he visited during the reconstruction, he saw deacons, members of the community and congregation and even children helping serve the church and rebuild.  

Since the fire, Pleasant Hill has grown from around 40 to 50–60 in regular attendance.

Seven believers took the plunge Jan. 2, when the church held its first baptism service in its new building.

Joe Shaw, a deacon at Pleasant Hill and the oldest member of the church, garnered loud applause when he said, “Before the fire, we were not in debt. Today we are in this new church building and it is paid for.”

Johnson added, “This is a special day. Take this as marching orders: Change this community for Christ.”

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