|First Service Held at Antioch Church Since Tornado|
|Tuesday, May 5, 2009|
The members of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church located on Galen Road, here in Macon County, were all smiles on Sunday morning, May 3rd, as the first service was held in their new building, which was completely destroyed in the February 5th, 2008 EF4 tornado.
Pastor Dean Sircy graciously welcomed his congregation to their house of worship, which is a living witness of God’s grace at work.
“On that unforgettable Tuesday night in early February of 2008,” said Pastor Sircy, “I received a phone call that the church was gone and “Miss Dixie” Ellis had lost her life in the devastating winds of the powerful twister.”
“I jumped in the car and drove up Antioch Road, but I had to walk the last quarter of a mile to the church, as downed power lines and trees stopped me.”
“My heart was heavy,” the Pastor continued, “and as I got closer to the church an enormous burden fell on my shoulders as I knew what awaited me.”
As Dean stood there with a flashlight in his hand, turning from side to side, he froze as he realized the church was completely gone.
“I at least expected a wall to remain, a bench or something,” Dean remarked, “but there was absolutely nothing left except the front steps. And believe me, it was undoubtedly the darkest hour of my life.”
“I remember very clearly worrying about the other families who lived nearby and I prayed for the living God to have mercy on them.”
“Show me your presence, you’ve got to help me see you, I almost demanded of the Lord as I stayed with “Miss Dixie’s” body until daylight.”
Feeling alone and disillusioned as morning broke across the unrecognizable landscape, Dean quickly glanced at the vacant lot where his beloved church once stood and the mud splattered green mailbox of Dixie Ellis, as he turned and headed on home.
People had worshipped at this site for generations, but in the blink of an eye, the little brick church wasn’t there to house their songs.
“Returning later that day, I was overcome with emotion as dedicated members as well as complete strangers were already there sifting through the rubble, salvaging Bibles and hymnals,” Dean said. “After a violent night of Mother Nature’s fury, I realized in the quietness of the afternoon, as I humbled myself before the Lord, there was hope that we would somehow rebuild our church.”
“In the days and weeks that followed, I talked to several other pastors who were also dealing with the same thing I was; searching for answers and trying to help everyone through this difficult time. But I’ll have to admit, the weight on my shoulders was heavy once again, as I couldn’t foresee the day we would return to our own church.”
“But a Vietnam veteran put my mind at ease as he told me to do things decently, in order, and God would provide that appointed day,” Dean recalled, in an emotion packed voice. “And believe it or not, I carried this with me through the many months that followed.”
God certainly likes His house full, and on Sunday morning over 300 people walked through the double doors of the Antioch Church on Galen Road.
“Sunday morning was very emotional and different at first,” Dean said. “I was at ease but not quite comfortable until the whole congregation arrived and they started singing, testifying and praying. And suddenly it was God’s house, His people, and His presence was felt in every heart; it was home!”
“I want to thank everyone that contributed money, offered a prayer on our behalf, helped in the clean up, worked on the new church and supported our effort in any way. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, for allowing us to have a home to come back too. God bless you all!”