Local News

Joy abounds as congregation enters Tarboro church built by volunteers

Posted June 22, 2008 8:02 p.m. EDT

— For nearly a decade, members of one Edgecombe County church have waited to worship in their own sanctuary again. Floodwaters destroyed theirs in 1999.

Sunday, they walked into their new house of worship in an emotional homecoming.

“Thank you for working in your own time,” Rev. Roger Raynor told volunteers who had labored on the new St. Paul AME Zion Church.

“We have members who are 85, 90, 94, who know of no other church but St. Paul,” Raynor said.

When Hurricane Floyd inundated Tarboro in 1999, St. Paul was destroyed, and the congregation didn't have enough money to rebuild.

“We thought there was no light at the end of the tunnel, but look at what God has done for us!” lifetime member Lorna Lloyd said.

God, the St. Paul faithful say, sent them 100 volunteers.

After a phone call from Raynor, Meshach's Carpenters, a faith-based disaster-relief group managed to build in just eight days what floodwaters took away. And with the new was a reminder of the old – the church bell, the only piece that survived from the original church.

“We welcome y'all to your new house of worship!” the group told the worshipers.

“I can't help but cry! Jesus is so good,” Lloyd said to Cunnup as she entered the new church.

“It really makes you feel good to help put people back where they were,” volunteer Steve Cunnup said.

“Lord, I thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus,” Lloyd said as tears flowed down her cheeks. “Thank you for Meshach's Carpenters who came and all of the volunteers.”

They worshiped together for the first time.

“I am so proud that God let me live to see this,” Lloyd said.

Contractors still have to lay down the carpet and put in the pews, and they hope to have that done this week.