POMARIA — Congregation members brought shovels to worship Oct. 13 at St. Paul Lutheran Church. The worship service included a service of ground-breaking, the next step in the congregation’s efforts at restoration following a January 2013 fire that destroyed their sanctuary and parish building.
Near the end of the outdoor worship service, adults and children gathered in a circle around the hole where the parish building once stood and symbolically shoveled dirt in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Pastor Brent Nichols prayed over those efforts but also lifted up the congregation in a prayer that the project will be a building block to strengthen its faith and unify God’s people.
“We come today to seek God’s blessing as we set apart this ground for the rebuilding of this church,” he prayed.
During the children’s sermon the young people were given shovels to commemorate the day and Nichols asked that they always remember the day that they were at the groundbreaking, an event that will affect God’s faithful people for generations.
“Just like you plant a seed in the dirt and dig a hole, it takes a while to grow. This building will take a while, too but we have faith it will grow and people will use it themselves to grow in faith,” Nichols said.
Member Dorothy Cochell was moved by the analogy and the children’s sermon. A member of the first confirmation class held in the sanctuary that burned, she was impressed when Nichols gave the young children a spade so they could take part in the groundbreaking.
“I was very pleased to see it include everyone and this new beginning happening for all of us at St. Paul,” Cochell said.
During the sermon Nichols preached on the account of Jesus healing 10 lepers and of the one, a Samaritan, who returned to give thanks. He called on the parishioners to do likewise and remember to give thanks to God for his goodness and grace, particularly with the restoration efforts.
As part of the restoration, the interior of the sanctuary will be rotated 180 degrees. The congregation agreed a one-story education building and fellowship hall would replace the three-story parish building that fire destroyed. The church has hired Cannon Associates as contractor and Young Schumpert, an associate with Cannon, was on hand for the ground-breaking.
“This is a new page in the history of our church and the restoration is an expression of faithfulness in our mission to proclaim God’s word,” said member Stephen Werts.
Since the January fire the congregation has met in the Old Pomaria School auditorium or outdoors on the church grounds. The congregation agreed to hold its homecoming service outdoors on the church grounds and 225 people attended.
“We are so thankful to the community for all of their support … their prayerful support and financial support,” Nichols said.
The congregation has received support from businesses, the SC Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, non-Lutheran churches and from individuals across the nation in addition to faithful support of the surrounding community.