The Lebanon Church of God’s congregation, local church pastors and local officials gathered Sunday to celebrate two milestones.
The group of about 100 people honored the church’s 111th anniversary as it readied for a new place of worship with a groundbreaking.
“We are here today to officially dedicate this sacred ground to the Lord and to the Lord’s house,” said Lebanon Church of God Pastor Andrew Valentine. “We thank God for you being with us today.”
Immanuel Baptist Church Pastor John Hunn said members from the two churches are in men’s Bible study together as he led the service’s opening prayer.
“I am your brother in Christ,” said Hunn. “We were in Bible study when your church burned down. I want to say this, 1 Corinthians 12 says, ‘When one member of the body suffers, we all suffer.’ We are so excited for new beginnings. We are with you.”
Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead recognized the adversity the church experienced over the years.
“You had the fire that took your home, but then you found friends across the way that took care of you,” Craighead said. “That’s what community is all about…I’m excited about what’s going to be our future, and I look so much to working with you and what’s to come here.”
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto read a proclamation from the Wilson County Commission recognizing the occasion.
“I’m thankful for the people who saw a need to have a church on this corner,” Hutto said. “They had a purpose here…I’m thankful today that the core of this church, when adversity hit, it only made you stronger. You continued to work and continued to bless. There is a need and purpose for the church here on this corner.”
Lebanon Councilor Fred Burton presented a $500 donation to the church.
“During my previous term as your city councilman for the second ward, we have had two churches built, and during my current term, another church will be built,” Burton said. “That is truly a blessing.”
Valentine asked for blessings as construction was just getting under way at the church site.
“We are here today to declare our season and time has come to usher in a new beginning of mission and ministry,” Valentine said. “We are gathered here to officially dedicate this sacred ground to build a house for the Lord. We are convinced that the Lord has and will continue to find favor with us and bless us through the construction process and as we walk into our new facility.”
Contractor Cliff Carey said he found a Bible in the ashes of the former church. He said he planned to have the Bible framed and present to the congregation once the church is built.
Carey said construction on the new building was nearly ready to go vertical. A fire in November destroyed the former church, and the congregation has met at the Market Street Community Center since that time.