Brown Grove Baptist Church in Keysville, Ga., opened its doors on Sunday. (WRDW-TV / March 19, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, March 18, 2012
KEYSVILLE, Ga. -- It was a day of celebration in Keysville as Brown Grove Baptist Church opened the doors of its new sanctuary.
In November 2010 the church burned to the ground and members have spent the past 16 months rebuilding.
Sunday marked the end of a long journey for the church after it was struck by lightning, but it was also the start of a new chapter in the church's history.
"It brought tears to my eyes," remarked one church member as she looked at the new church. Members rejoiced as two of their oldest members cut the ribbon to the new sanctuary. "
Willie Rucker, chairman of the Board of Deacons, said it's been a long road to make it to this day.
"It's been a lot of time and effort, but it's worth it. This day right here right now is worth it all," he said.
Sixteen months ago a lightning strike changed their lives forever.
"It was a small storm. Lasted just a few minutes. A few lightning strikes from what we're told and one of the strikes struck the building," said Pastor Clary Dishmond
Church members remember it well.
"It was sad, very sad," said Usher Julia Kelly.
"It was devastating. I was sad it was gone. We had just left Bible study, " said Olivia Twiggs, who has been a member of Brown Grove her whole life.
But Sunday they let go of the past and walked into their new church.
"I can't express what this means. It's just joyful," Kelly said.
The day started with a march from where the old church used to stand to the doors of the new church.
"It was like history marching from the old site to the new," Twiggs said.
This church is larger than the old one, but Sunday it was filled to capacity with standing room only.
"We hadn't expected quite this many people, but it's a blessing that as many as did came and we're just so glad, so happy," Rucker said.
People from all over the community came out to show their support.
"We come out to just celebrate with Brown Grove and we certainly wish them the best," said visitor Audrell Golphin.
Many were calling the fire a blessing because it has allowed them move on to bigger and better things.
They have also moved to a new property, across the street from the site of the old church, which they are now using as a parking lot. They say their old property just wasn't enough room for a new church this size.