Just as the mythical phoenix rose from the ashes, plans are under way to rebuild a historic Mount Airy church destroyed by a lightning-related fire last month.
Members of Ararat Missionary Baptist are hoping to construct the new church on the same site as the old one at 211 Jones School Road. Despite firefighters’ efforts, the July 24 blaze left the building a total loss, after having stood since 1905.
But the small congregation is not letting that tragedy kill its spirit — and instead is mounting a construction campaign, which an announcement for the effort says is “being led and directed by the spirit of God.”
“Everything looks favorable,” longtime member Faye Carter, and the clerk of Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, said of the early stages of the campaign. “But you know, we have to take it step by step.”
Something positive that has occurred in the aftermath of the fire is a show of support from the community which has been encouraging to members, according to Carter.
“We have had donations from several churches already,” she said Wednesday, in addition to offers to hold building fundraisers on behalf of Ararat Missionary Baptist. Businesses also have expressed a desire to contribute to the rebuilding effort.
Carter believes such response from local residents is due to the landmark status the church achieved during its 109-year history.
“I think they are concerned because this is one of the older churches,” she said.
The congregation recently had dwindled to a small core group of longtime members who are elderly in some cases. But many people who grew up in the surrounding community got their start there, before moving out of the area or to other churches, Carter explained.
“I think (it’s) because the church has been so instrumental in the community from way back,” she said of the interest kindled in the wake of the fire.
Church leaders decided to focus that support by launching a formal fundraising campaign which has included the establishment of a building account in the church’s name at Capital Bank, 205 E. Independence Blvd., Mount Airy, NC, 27030.
Checks made payable to Ararat Missionary Baptist Church also can be sent to Faye Carter, the church clerk, at 180 Webster Road, Mount Airy, NC, 27030. If a tax identification number is needed for donation purposes, it can be obtained from Carter at 336-789-3194.
As far as a target sum needed to rebuild the church, she said, “I have no idea.”
Carter said that will be determined once the church knows how much will be received from its insurance coverage on the building. No meetings have been held so far with architects or construction companies.
It is hoped that Ararat Missionary Baptist Church can be rebuilt within a year, but Carter said an exact time frame has not been pinpointed.
In the meantime, the congregation is holding services twice per month — on the first and third Sundays at 11 a.m. — at an alternate location, the cafeteria of Jones Family Resource Center, also on Jones School Road.
Though the congregation is small in number, says a statement released by Carter and the Rev. Chad Mann, church pastor, “we know that God is with us through all of the difficulties.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.