04/02/17 — Antioch Church hosts appreciation banquet

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Antioch Church hosts appreciation banquet

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on April 2, 2017 12:24 AM

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A large crowd gathered at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday to celebrate its reopening.

When the Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Tate was able to get back into his church on West Elm Street after it had been flooded by Hurricane Matthew, he opened the doors to find total devastation.

Water stood knee-deep all around the inside of the church.

Pews were swollen, strewn about and bursting.

And then there was the smell.

The inside of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church was completely destroyed by the historic flooding that Hurricane Matthew brought in October.

"When I came back in the first day we were able to get back in, it was just water everywhere and the smell was unbelievable, the stench," Tate said. "I was just taken back because it was just -- I'd never seen that type of devastation and damage, so I wondered how in the world how we could recover from such a devastation."

And as Tate wondered how to get the church in its entirety redone and remodeled, one thought rang true for him -- God would provide.

"My first thing to do was to start praying and start talking to the Lord saying, 'Hey, you know, there's got to be a purpose for this. There's go to be a reason. There's got to be a plan you have for us that we don't know about,'" Tate said.

Tate said his first thought was about how overwhelming the extent of the damage was and how it would be next to impossible to recover from it.

"I was standing out there in the parking lot talking to the Lord about it and Service Master, one of those restoration type companies, pulled up," Tate said.

The company began clearing out the inside -- ripping up floors, tearing out sheet rock and drying out the water damage, and then remodeling got under way.

And the church recovered.

After months of having services at other places and moving other church functions around to where they could go on, the church hosted an appreciation banquet on its grounds Saturday night to thank everyone who made reopening the 104-year-old church possible.

About 100 people attended the banquet Saturday night, including Goldsboro Mayor Chuck Allen and State Sen. Don Davis, who presides over the district that includes Wayne County.

"The best thing about Matthew was all the good it brought out of people in our community," Allen said. "There were people helping people and it didn't matter what color they were, what their sex was, what their income was -- we were helping people. And it really has brought this community closer together."

Allen said it was good to see people rebuilding after the storm, but about 200 people in the community remain displaced more than six months after the disaster.

Davis said he is aware of this and it is being worked on at the state level.

Davis visited Antioch Missionary Baptist Church alongside now Gov. Roy Cooper back in 2016 when it was flooded out and destroyed.

"When the doors opened, when Pastor Tate opened the doors, and to just see pews all over the place, debris just -- what you would normally would think in terms of a sanctuary being a sacred place for worship, it was like wow, and my eyes were big, my mouth dropped," Davis said.

Davis returned to the church Saturday night to witness all of the repair work that had been done to get the doors back open.

"To come and see the parking lot full, to see people of faith worshipping, coming together -- not just this congregation, but from across this community to celebrate with this congregation -- it just says so much, and it shows not only the strength of this community, but the power of God in the midst of the storm," Davis said.

Billy Harvey, of Harvey's Home Improvement, was the general contractor who oversaw the remodeling.

With repairs complete and people back inside the church, the congregation is set to have its first service in its new sanctuary next Sunday, April 9.