CEDARTOWN — On Feb. 26 New Harmony Baptist Church celebrated the retirement of a 22-year-old building fund. At the end of the day-long celebration, attendees witnessed the official note-burning ceremony.
“There are so many people involved in this process who are still with us. Some have already gone home to be with the Lord,” said Sammy Stephens, interim pastor reflecting on the congregation’s sentiment on the journey’s conclusion. “I will just quote what is written above our entryway: ‘To God Be the Glory.’ We are a blessed people.”
Under Pastor DeWayne New, the fund began in 1995. Then, the church made plans for a new sanctuary, nursery, education space, and addition to the fellowship hall. However, a good problem developed as funds started to grow. Those gifts provided the opportunity for other projects to be completed in anticipation of the building plans.
During the late 1990s, reported Stephens, $95,000 went toward renovating a future parking lot due to the incoming sanctuary and fellowship hall claiming current (at that time) parking space. In 2009, $25,212 provided a new youth area from closing in the church’s former pavilion.
Through it all giving never wavered, Stephens said, with construction on the sanctuary and fellowship hall beginning June 10, 2009. By the time it was finished, the final cost for the construction, landscaping permits, pews, sound system, and engineering totaled $1,771,891.07. With the additional giving from its people the years before, the church had collected nearly $1.2 million toward the project. A mortgage taken out in October 2011 finished off the construction payment, with additional giving from the congregation and sale of the pastorium ultimately making New Harmony debt-free this January.