— By CHRISTIN COYNE
ADELL – A year after their sanctuary was destroyed by fire, the Adell Community Fellowship Sunday service was packed.
Ushers set up extra rows of chairs for families as congregants sang “Joy to the World” and prepared for a baby dedication, three baptisms and the Lord’s Supper.
For months after the Dec. 13, 2012, fire that destroyed the non-denominational church’s sanctuary and everything inside, church members met in the former children’s area in the small building next door.
But this holiday season, congregants celebrated in the gleaming new building with simple ceremonies honoring rebirth in Christ.
“Isaiah 61:3 talks about beauty from ashes,” Senior Pastor Mike Wiley said. “We’ve kind of used that as an earmark for our building.”
“One of our members made that statement, which I thought was good, ‘from the ashes we rise,’” Wiley said. “When you face a tragedy like we did and a total loss like we did, you feel pretty hopeless. But God has just been so wonderful to us through others who have helped us, through donations. It’s just been amazing how God’s people have come together and helped individually and other churches, how they’ve come together and helped us.”
The day after the fire, a group of volunteers went into the building that was used as a children’s area, tearing out walls painted green, purple and pink and repainting them in time for services two days later.
Others donated items allowing the church to continue meeting. First Baptist Church of Possum Kingdom gave the church a hundred chairs while a Lutheran church near Springtown donated a Lord’s Supper table and other furniture.
“And that’s just the way it’s been,” Wiley said. “We’ve had physical donations. We’ve had monetary donations. It’s just been amazing to watch God’s people come together outside the denominations ... We’ve received help from every conceivable denominations, plus individuals. We’ve had individuals send us checks that were not members of our church. They just showed up, you know.”
Though the former building was under-insured and the church is still awaiting some funds from the insurance company, thanks to support from other churches and people in the community, they are debt-free getting into their new building, according to Wiley, who, midway through the service, announced a recent $25,000 donation that has helped get the church through a financial tight spot.
Though it is smaller than the former two-story, metal building, the new one-story church building is made of stone and brick and has a traditional, aesthetically-pleasing appearance.
“The building that we have is really just so much more beautiful than the one that we lost,” Wiley said.
The new 8,400-square-foot building houses a nearly 200-seat sanctuary, a foyer, a cafe, prayer rooms, office space and children’s space.
The older building is being turned into the youth building and fellowship hall.
“That Thursday when I was standing outside and watching the building burning, I was just sick at my stomach,” Wiley said. “We had just lost our daughter in August and we were still reeling from that loss and then the church building burned. At a time like that, you’re just physically sick, you just don’t understand. You know there are always reasons but you just don’t understand. And now I can look at the back side and see that, although the burning of the original structure was horrible, what God replaced it with was greater. God certainly was very gracious to us.”