JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The oldest black church in Jacksonville, first originating in 1854, began service again in their new facility after their previous one was destroyed in Hurricane Florence.

The Sandy Run Missionary Baptist Church celebrated its ribbon-cutting and dedication last Saturday and had its first service last Sunday. The new 22,400 square foot facility is located across the street from where the previous church was and features 11 classrooms, a fellowship hall, a full kitchen, and administrative spaces. The aerial view of the church is also in the shape of a cross.

They also have preserved some pieces of the old church including the stained glass, bricks, and bell to remember the church’s beginning.

The original church was destroyed by Hurricane Florence on September 15, 2018. 

Sandy Run Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Joel Churchwell said the history of the church has impacted the community for years and it was a blessing from God to still be just across the street from where it began.

“From its origins, a bush over across the street, and to still be where we are within this community, just speaks volumes on what God has done and what God is continuing to do,” Churchwell said.

Grover C. Lewis III, chairman of trustee ministry at the church, says that they kept memorabilia from the original church so their members can remember its history and look forward to what their new facility will become.

The church’s intent is to be the “hallmark of hope” to the community, and they encourage people to come to their services virtually at 8:30 a.m. or in person at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.