In 2010, our church which had stood for 176 years burned to the ground. A mechanical failure started a fire, and we felt helpless as we watched our beloved building get taken away from us in the blink of an eye. First Baptist Church of South Londonderry was reduced to ashes.
While insurance covered most of the cost for rebuilding, the commercial building codes have changed a lot since the original building was built, and we have found ourselves trying to make up the difference ever since.
The church building is so important to us and our community, and we have been making due with worship services in the town hall. It is great to have a space, but it is not a proper church. In a community that values history and tradition, they want to see us in a traditional church building. We have to stack and unstack the chairs regularly, because other groups use the building. We need a building of our own.
Vermont is currently the least-churched state in all of America, and has the highest percentage of people who identify as having no religion at all. It is a faith desert. We live in a mission field. We continue to reach out to our community, but we could do so much more with a building!
We do not have the funding to complete certain parts of the building project. One of those parts is the sprinkler system. It is essential that we have the sprinkler system operational in the building in order to receive an occupancy permit. $81,000 is the cost of the whole system.
We spent considerable time and effort trying to keep the cost of this as low as possible within the constraints of commercial building codes in Vermont. While there are a few other parts of the building that we will need to fund, such as the elevator, the sprinkler system is the last part of this building project that we are confident that we will absolutely need in order to receive an occupancy permit.
Our mission is to grow followers of Jesus by planting seeds of faith and nurturing them to bear fruit. This building will help us to fulfill this mission. We designed a building for not only our current needs but also for our children, who will grow in this building, and also for their children and grandchildren to grow into followers of Jesus.
We look forward to the day that we can worship in the pews instead of storing them in our basements. Instead of spending our time picking up chairs after worship, we will be sharing communion with shut-ins.
The community will have a proper building to gather for wedding ceremonies and for remembering family members at memorial services.
This building will be a place where we can provide hot showers, dinners, and a worship space for SERVE, a youth group from Pennsylvania who comes every summer to do service projects and to grow in their faith. This building will enable us to serve our community in the way it deserves to be served.
Our fundraising and insurance has gotten us closer to finishing the building, but we are still far from completion. We are hoping to find help from fellow followers of Jesus, so we can raise the money necessary for the church to meet building codes and be able to do worship and ministry in the new building. Please help our little church!