When the N.C. Baptist partnership with Vermont’s Green Mountain Baptist Association began in 2005, one of the first projects was to renovate “The Old Stone Church.”
Following four years of intense, dedicated work by volunteers, the building will be dedicated May 23. But in many ways, the work of Capstone Baptist Church has just begun.
Built in 1834, the historic church in North Bennington had fallen into disrepair. After receiving a promise to renovate the facility, owners deeded the building to the association.
Thus began a five-year project under the direction of two dedicated couples — Bobby and Stella Austin of Alabama and Ed and Helen Helms of Lincolnton. Dozens of work teams, primarily from those two states, completely overhauled the building — after first removing tons of pigeon droppings from the attic.
Grueling work was required on the foundation and front portico, both constructed of huge granite stones.
Volunteers converted the basement, into a modern, functional ministry area with meeting space, kitchen, bathrooms and shower facilities.
Later teams began giving the beautiful old sanctuary area a much-needed face lift. Original tin ceiling tiles and the railing surrounding the pulpit area were painstakingly refinished. The church steeple was also rebuilt.
The adjacent parsonage was renovated, an important move because as the church building came back to life, there also began a new birth of the church. Having a place for a new church planter and his family to live was important.
Once a church planter was in place, Bible study efforts began in various places in town. Eventually a core group began meeting regularly at the Grace Christian School (which also served as housing and shower facility for most of the volunteer teams). Both church and building began to round into shape. Starting with a congregation of zero in 2005, the church, now known as Capstone Baptist, has more than 50 members.
Work on the building was sufficiently completed to allow occupancy in the late fall 2008. In one of the first services, led by current pastor Phil Steadman, the church was one person shy of its 110-capacity sanctuary.
Partnership director Mark Abernathy encourages N.C. Baptists to continue praying for the ministry of this congregation as they endeavor to reach out into the surrounding community.
To be involved in Vermont or other partnership ministries contact the partnership office at (800) 395-5102 x 5607 or by e-mail at [email protected].