A groundbreaking was held Wednesday to celebrate a new chapter for one of Wilson County's oldest churches.
The congregation of Cedar Grove Baptist Church stood in the spot of its former building, holding ropes connected to a plow. Together, in unified motion, they moved dirt where, in six to eight months, a new building will stand.
Cedar Grove Baptist Church, established on May 13, 1813, was more than 200 years old when it was destroyed by fire on Feb. 21, 2015.
Folks at the groundbreaking said they never expected the church to burn down.
Judge Clara Byrd, who has been a member for more than 20 years, said it was like "losing your home."
Eugene Graves remembered the morning the church burned. "It was about 8 o'clock when I got a phone call," he said, adding that upon arrival fire was "gushing" out of the building.
The community reached out to church members in the weeks following the event. "People would ask, 'Can I do anything?' 'What's going on?" Graves said. "We were faced with no church to go to."
Adding to the stress of being displaced was the fact that their preacher had resigned three weeks before.
"We put things together, and I guess the Dillon barn was the first thing we had to go to. The place was just about full the first Sunday we had down there. We had people coming to the altar to be saved - we weren't used to that," Graves said, noting that the church had been at a stalemate.
The congregation has been meeting at Walter J. Baird since the summer. Many are looking forward to the growth a new building will bring.
"This new building is going to accommodate us. We are ready to come home," said Connie Ford. Ford has officially been a member since 2001, but attended the church with her mother since the age of 5.
"This church is going to be more modern and safer," Byrd added. "It will be nice to have a new facility."
Funds for the building were raised through a fish fry and concert event and private donations.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.