The congregation of Bethany Christian Church gathered for the first time since fire destroyed the sanctuary, learning that the fellowship hall has also been declared a total loss. The first gathering took place under the pavilion, Tuesday, June 26, at 7:00 PM.
David Bailey, with a recovered church handbell, chimed the congregation to worship.
The church’s pastor, Gary Edge, reminded parishioners that the last Sunday in the life of this sanctuary, the youth choir, One Voice, led the worship. He said the congregation would move forward now with one voice, one heart, and one faith. He then said, “Let us pray the Lord’s Prayer with one voice.”
As parishioners recalled personal experiences, Bossy Hardison confessed to a 41 year-old misdemeanor, gluing piano keys together. Others recalled participation in Christmas pageants. Several recalled exploits of Meredith Beeman. Russell Lee admonished the group to “use this disaster as a wake-up call to strengthen this congregation.” Tammy Daw spoke of the church’s love for her family during times of crisis. Rebbecca Cowell shared her joy that her husband really found the love of Jesus in this church. Susan Lee recalled the powerful prayers of her late father-in-law, Don Lee, Jr.
And, Annette Aldridge prayed, “As we sit among the ashes with the smell of smoke all around us, we hear birds singing, reminding us of God’s eternal love.”
Sara Spalding first led the congregation in singing Amazing Grace, a tune everyone knew since there were no hymnals. When the services concluded, she had everyone join hands in a circle. She then led the prayerful group in a rendition of “Will the circle be unbroken.”