Local News

Johnston County church weathers storms

Posted August 10, 2008 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2008 5:52 a.m. EDT

— Three days after powerful winds ripped the steeple right off their roof, members of a Johnston County church were especially thankful during services Sunday.

Cornerstone Baptist Church, at 5058 U.S. Highway 701, about 5 miles south of Four Oaks, has weathered some storms. Even before a storm peeled off roof shingles and toppled the steeple, there was a near drowning of three young church members.

"I think we all experienced something that I don't think any of us will forget,” church member Pam Reyes said.

The near drownings happened on July 26 during a church outing to Surf City on Topsail Island.

"What was happening was the riptide was taking them out to the ocean, deeper and deeper and deeper,” pastor J.T. Mercado said.

Mercado swam out, thrust the children on his back, and carried them to shore – unharmed.

Less than two weeks later, a storm with wind gusts of 70 mph thrashed their small country church. The steeple fell, and the roadside sign fell apart.

"This is material. What we went through July 26 was very devastating,” Mercado said.

If the storm damage had been worse, and the roof caved in and the walls blown out, Cornerstone would rise again, Mercado said. After all, the building rose in a mere eight days, earning it the nickname 'Miracle Church."

Cornerstone's congregation was established in 2000; however, they didn't have a church to worship in.

"But the church folks, the members of this church, they never had a church home,” Mercado said.

Then, in the summer 2004, the Carpenters for Christ group built the congregation a church.

"Those storms and trials and tribulations that we go through make us a better person. If we cannot endure little storms, how can we endure big storms?” Mercado asked.

Cornerstone is insured and church officials plan to have a new steeple and all repairs completed during the next two weeks.