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New Salisbury church perseveres

New Salisbury church perseveres
New Salisbury church perseveres
Pastor Philip Masters points to a hole in the ceiling of his church, Victory Baptist, in New Salisbury, while church member Patty Wood looks on. The church was damaged by winds from Hurricane Ike, but in the middle of replacing the roof, suffered even more damage when Wood's husband, Dean, fell from a ladder and the church was unable to be repaired before rain fell inside the sanctuary. (Photo by Lindsey Corley)

Drip, drip, drip.
That’s the noise the congregation at Victory Baptist Church in New Salisbury heard for a while, after a series of devastating events left their church open to the elements.
Patty Wood, a member of the church, said the troubles have been mounting for a while.
With mostly older people in their population, Wood said upkeep has been difficult for the church, as most everyone is living on a fixed income and unable to tithe much. But, after damage from high winds as a result from Hurricane Ike in September, Wood said the church, which used to be a skating rink, received some insurance money and decided to have the roof replaced.
The building had virtually no insulation and was costing the church $3,000 a month to heat, even if only turning on the furnace Wednesdays and Sundays.
‘We had to have a new roof,’ Wood said. ‘We knew we couldn’t make it through the winter.’
However, Wood said they couldn’t afford both the roof and to pay the crew to put it on, so her husband, Dean, their sons and friends volunteered to put on the roof.
On Nov. 28, exhausted after hours of work, the crew had completed putting in extensions and most of the metal over half the roof. As Dean was climbing down the ladder from the roof to take a break, he started to tell his son to watch his step coming down because the ladder didn’t feel right. However, the ladder broke mid-warning.
Dean suffered a broken arm and elbow and a crushed wrist, which required surgery the following morning. Wood said her sons and the rest of the crew tried to finish the roof that Saturday, but wet weather and slick working conditions forced the men off the roof. Though they covered the open areas with plastic, Wood said it ‘didn’t have as good a grip as it should’ve’ and it blew off in several places.
With gaping holes still in the roof, the sanctuary was exposed to the elements and the rain poured in, soaking the carpet and drywall. It rained on instruments and pews.
Wood said she and other members of her family went to the church Sunday, Nov. 30, not knowing what to expect but knowing it probably wouldn’t be good.
‘This is what we found,’ she said, gesturing to the ravaged sanctuary.
There was no way to have services in the church that Sunday, but that didn’t mean the parishioners weren’t able to worship together. Instead, they met in the home of their pastor, Philip Masters. Wood said the hardest part was seeing peoples’ faces Sunday morning, many whom saw the mess and left, fearing their church was over.
‘We didn’t have much to start with,’ she said.
That’s not to say they ever felt they were lacking. Wood said the church usually has an attendance of between 30 and 40 people at Sunday services, with a population of mainly elderly or young children.
‘We have a good pastor,’ she said. ‘Good people.’
For a small church, they have been very active, sponsoring chili suppers and planning to start a support group at the beginning of the year.
‘We have a lot of dreams,’ Wood said. ‘It’s going to happen.’
In a perfect world, Wood said, by now, the repairs would be done and the pews would be filled.
As it stands, the roof is back on and they are in the process of cleaning up the inside and assessing the damage. The church still needs to re-do inside walls and change some light fixtures that had been damaged by the water, but they are hopeful that things can be cleaned and repaired.
‘It’s a long process to get it done, but we’re trying to get it done before Christmas,’ Masters said.
Wood said though it’s been hard to see the church she loves experience such destruction, she knows that, eventually, it’ll return. She has faith and a strong role model in Masters that the entire church is turning to for comfort.
‘This won’t be the last disaster we face,’ Masters said. ‘I’ve faced worse than this. Some think we won’t come back. We will.’
For more information on Victory Baptist Church or how to help, call Masters at 736-1366 or church treasurer Debbie Cooley at 972-3786.