Beauty for ashes

Published 11:58 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

What a difference 11 months and two days can make.

On the morning of Jan. 12, the congregation of Providence No. 1 Baptist Church was devastated to see one of their church’s buildings destroyed by apparent arsonists. However, that sadness has turned to joy.

The reason why is the church has rebuilt, and they are officially dedicating their new sanctuary, classrooms and offices this afternoon at 2:30 during a special service.

Church Pastor the Rev. Allen Foster said his church has grown closer through the tragedy.

“The attitude of the church has just been wonderful,” Foster said. “There really hasn’t been any friction during this whole process. The reason for that is our congregation’s attitude. This just shows you what people can do when you have the right attitude.”

Today, the church will be having a time of praise to thank God for their new facility. They will also be honoring firefighters, police officers, carpenters and everyone else who either helped respond to the fire or donated their time and money to help them rebuild.

“We’re so blessed to be in such a wonderful building,” Foster said.

The new sanctuary seats 299 and has 11 classrooms, a nursery and offices to replace those lost in the fire.

The new structure is a metal building with a brick front. The building was purchased from Lawler Building Systems in Montevallo, which had stored it for the last four years.

“Evidently, a church had started a building project, but for some reason, they didn’t use the building,” Foster said. “We got a great deal on it. Everything in our building is paid for. God must have known that we were going to need it when the building was made four years ago.”

Foster’s new office sits almost in the same spot where his old one used to be. The only difference is that he now has a bathroom in it, and almost everything he had in the old office is gone. Some of the few things that survived the fire were a small lighthouse collectible and copies of the first two sermons he ever preached, albeit with charred edges.

The construction process isn’t over for the church. Foster said they would be working to convert the old sanctuary into a fellowship hall to replace the fellowship hall they lost in the fire. They will also be fixing up additional classrooms in the basement of the old sanctuary building. Foster said they will be paving additional parking lots to help ease the parking problem.

“We still have plenty of room to grow,” he said.

Foster hasn’t been able to personally visit with the suspects charged with the fire, but he said the church has been able to minister to the family in the wake of the fire. He said the church is having a very forgiving spirit toward the suspects.

“We would still like to see them baptized in our baptistery,” Foster said.

One of the responsive readings the church reads often out of the Baptist Hymnal is ironically titled “Providence.” Contained in the reading is Romans 8:28 which says all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

“It didn’t say everything that happened was good, but it says that it will work out for the good,” Foster said. “The fire wasn’t good, but it has worked out to be good.

“We just give God the praise for it.”