A fire that destroyed the sanctuary at Penelope Baptist Church in Hickory on Feb. 8 has unified the congregation, the church’s pastor said.
“The fire has actually changed our church for the good,” said David Grinnell, pastor. “We’re closer. We’re more focused on the role God has for us.”
The sanctuary was a total loss, burning to the ground hours before services were scheduled.
The pastor said the church appreciates the prayers and support it has received from the community and Baptists in other areas.
Grinnell said God has blessed the congregation since the fire. People are joining the church and getting involved in its ministry, he said.
The congregation is now meeting in its gymnasium which has been converted into a worship center.
Church members voted unanimously to rebuild in a new location on the church property, Grinnell said. Some church members told him the decision was the first 100 percent vote they remember.
Grinnell said the sanctuary will now be located more toward the center of the church property, connecting all the church buildings. The move will also help with an issue the church would have had to face in a few years.
A highway is scheduled to be built that would have cut off access near the old sanctuary.
“It turned out to be a blessing,” Grinnell said.
The church hopes to break ground on the new sanctuary building in October or November, he said.
“This fire has melted us together,” Grinnell said. “It really has.”