Historic Macedonia church seeking help for storm damage, Members have no place to Worship. Please Donate!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm
By HERB DONALDSON
Special to The News
If the story below compels you to lend a helping hand, Donations can be made to Centennial Bank- (850)926-7111 (MACEDONIA COCWIH A-DOPT A CHURCH ACCOUNT, CRAWFORDVILLE FLORIDA, 32327)
There’s an old gospel tune that says there is “A leak in this old building / And my soul has got to move.” There’s no doubt the Macedonia Church of Christ Written in Heaven congregation are taking those words to heart. The effects of Tropical Storm Debby this past June caused historic flooding in areas of the county. Sopchoppy and Buckhorn – where Macedonia Church is located – were hard hit. A number of residents and business owners are still in the throes of digging out from under.
Before the storm, Macedonia spent upwards of $25,000 to remodel their entire facility. No room was left untouched in this effort, but as Debby touched down, the church kitchen and basement suffered major flooding, and the roof, literally, shifted. That roof has now begun to separate.
“We were doing renovations,” says member Delores Nelson. “Putting down new carpet, redoing the pews, air conditioning. Our plan was to add to the structure that we now have by extending the sides and moving the bathrooms up front, and also reworking the roof. But the storm hit before we could put that phase of our plan in motion.” Like many, they are currently involved with the paperwork for FEMA and the insurance company. They are now reaching out for the community’s support to help save as much of the original structure as possible while undergoing this unexpected chapter of rebuilding.
“We’re doing everything we can to get the community involved,” says church Secretary Bobbery Smith Rosier. “We plan to have a ‘Saints Night Out’ fundraising dinner soon, but we need the help of those in the community. This church is an historic location, and a number of churches in the area are spin-off’s from this one.”
Deacon George Washington Green and Mary Eliza Green donated the land for the church back in 1934. Before this, services were held at the Greens’ home, or locations such as the site of where the Old Buckhorn School once stood. There were also “bush harbor” services, where the faithful would gather beneath a temporary structure. Often in these types of gatherings, wooden barrels were covered with cloth and used as the lectern, or pulpit, while baptisms took place in whatever area was open to Negroes – from rivers, to ditches.
The first pastor of the church was Elder Moses Brown, from Indian Pass, between Apalachicola and Port St. Joe. As the story goes, the Greens and the daughter of another family went to a Pentecostal meeting in the Apalachicola area held by a Mother Dukes. S he was, in turn, invited to come to Crawfordville to hold similar meetings. She would go on to visit the Bethel community, and then Hype Park. This was the beginning of the First Born Church. Eventually, a few members of the FBC broke off and formed a “Written in Heaven” organization.
Macedonia was the first church built in the area (and most likely in the state), under the Church of Christ Written in Heaven charter. The building was constructed by Elder J.D. Musgray, with Bishop Thomas Brown, who cut down the trees donated by the Green family for the window sills. Hamp Rosier donated bricks and blocks for the building. Averaging approximately 175 members in attendance for its services, a large majority are family descendants of those who started the original church, such as the Rosier, Green and Skipper families, to name few.
“This is a common built frame church,” says Pastor Alfred Nelson, “It doesn’t have trusses, but a common frame instead, so most everything is nailed together. A lot of those nails came apart in the roof area and is now causing pressure on the rest of the building.”
“We need funding for a different pitch to support the structure and fortify the walls,” he continues, “A retaining wall out back is also needed to protect us from other storms. The floors are old wood plank floors. There’s not a block foundation underneath, but cut pine trees. That’s how they built them in the old days, so what we’re dealing with is a true classic. We hope to rework the building while maintaining as much of its historic quality as possible.”
Adding to this woe is the necessity of finding a place of worship. An appreciation program was scheduled to take place this month. Knowing out of state visitors would be in attendance, services in the building were to be suspended directly afterwards so renovations could begin in December.
“It was a surprise for us,” says Pastor Nelson. “Our engineer told us that if nothing else happened – like another storm – this building should last for another three years. It was sturdy enough that it wouldn’t just collapse on its own.”
“We understand the county has concerns,” he adds, “and we’re not arguing that at all. We’d planned to halt services at the end of the month. That end just came a few weeks earlier than expected.”
“My number one concern is that the spiritual well-being of our members and parishioners be taken care of in this time. All other things are secondary. We want people to know that we have a need. If they can donate a facility for worship, finances, or have expertise in an area, or can provide manpower, or organization skills to help get the word out, we would gladly accept. The Bible says ‘you have not, because you ask not.’ We’re working with that principle in mind.”
For more information on how you can donate or help, contact Pastor Nelson at (850) 264-6621 or secretary, Rosier at (850) 962-2884.
Pastor Alfred Nelson
93 Baptist Hill Road
Sopchoppy, Florida 32358