Flooded church ready to worship - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Flooded church ready to worship

April 19, 2006

Albany-- Wednesday night, heavy rain poured down over the First Baptist Church of Acree, a church that's no stranger to the laws of nature.

"We've gone through some dips and valleys," says Pastor Mark Sickling.

Some low valleys from high waters. That was the sight last year after water filled the church. "We had 8 or 9 inches of rain in our sanctuary by noon of July 11th," says Sickling.

It's a day that members of the congregation won't ever forget. "Terrified, terrified. Just never thought the flood would get our building," says member Jackie Chapman. That building hasn't been worshipped in since then and the doors have been closed for nearly ten months.

"It's been a little trying at times," says member Jim Hall. Trying times that have paid off. Pastor Mark Sickling now opens the closed doors to a newly renovated sanctuary. He misses the pulpit he normally preaches from.

"I'm anxious. It's been difficult in some ways to have to use a multipurpose building for worship," says Sickling.

Heavily damaged pews are now replaced with new chairs, soiled carpet with fresh footing and new paint on wet walls. The changes can be seen in the church and the congregation.

"I think everybody's faith has been uplifted," says Chapman.

"All and all, even though it was considered to be a disaster, I think it was a great thing to happen," says Hall.

The congregation has become more close-knit and as one they'll soon walk into the new sanctuary for the first time. "I know I'm going to cry but it'll be tears of joy not sadness," says Chapman.

It was water of another kind that will bring them to those tears and just like the rain that fell Wednesday night, love will pour over the church. "As Christians, one thing we ought to do is stand with one another and get through it," says Sickling.

They're counting the days and drops until Sunday, when worship will overcome the rain and the floods.

This renovation is just a start. The church has plans to make a major expansion in a few years. Dougherty County has also helped to make sure flooding doesn't happen again. Public works crews installed new pipes to help water drain more quickly.

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