HAMLET — Church members, family, friends and residents filled the pews Sunday at Hamlet First United Methodist Church for a day of celebration.
The church’s congregation was celebrating their first service in the sanctuary since January when a fire destroyed one of their stained-glass windows and the smoke damage rendered the space unusable.
“It was beautiful,” Pastor Deb Wilkins said of the service. “God has restored us, and we feel anchored in our space.”
In addition to the church’s congregation, Wilkins said she sent out special invitations to Hamlet Police, the fire department, first responders, and others who helped aid the church during their time of need.
Capt. Trey Goodwin and his team from the fire department said it was an honor to be invited and to be thanked for their service that night.
“It’s amazing how good they’ve done rebuilding the church,” Goodwin said.
Over the past nine months, the church held services in their chapel until the completion of their sanctuary. Volunteers worked for months vacuuming floors, replacing pews, painting walls and installing televisions on both sides of the church — a new addition to the sanctuary.
Church’s board of trustees Chairperson Judith Gibson shouted “Hallelujah” after church service ended. She said her board has worked hard since January to get the sanctuary back up and running, and was happy with the turnout at the morning’s service.
“It’s so good to be back in our home,” Gibson said. “Everybody has worked hard and has done a super job. We’re thrilled to be back in the sanctuary.”
Church member Stacy Bartlett echoed Gibson’s sentiment, saying that she “couldn’t wait” to get back in the church.
“I cried more over those stained-glass windows because they are truly amazing,” she said. “I really thought (the church) was gone after they called me that night. It’s great to be here because this is part of Hamlet’s history.”
Reach Jasmine Hager at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]