Damage to centuries-old Pender church worse than from Matthew

CURRIE, NC (WWAY) – The members of Bethlehem Baptist can now see the devastation of their historic house of worship.

The only way we could enter the church was to knock in a back door as all of them were sealed. To walk inside, you must have some form of face mask to safely breathe in the air that, even in early October, was thick. The pews, piano and pulpit all are covered in mold and toppled over. For some time they sat in upwards to 4 feet of flood water.

“Nothing like Floyd, nothing like Matthew,” said lifetime church member Ted Brown. “It breaks my heart to go in there and see that.”

Brown has served for years as the head of he board of deacons. He quickly made his way to the back of the chapel to collect a photograph.

“A lot of things can be replaced but this can’t,” said Brown lifting the picture up, “That’s the first pastor here.”

Two years ago, Brown thought he saw the worse when Matthew flooded the church chapel. The church goes back to 1800, Brown says it’s records go back to 1835. The flooding from Matthew was the first and only in its recorded 183 years according to Brown.

“The doors have never been closed on this church until Matthew,” Brown said.

Now they remain closed. They’re sealed due to how much water-soaked into the walls. Brown sees the wheels in motion for recovery nonetheless.

“We are going to rebuild it.”

Bethlehem Baptist sits right where they were two years ago with an aging congregation.

“I know it’s nothing we did but it’s a hopeless feeling. We’re probably going to lose some members that are moving out.”

Brown does have some hope to hold on to. He has already heard from the state Baptist men and women who plan to return to restore the church once again.

“It takes a lot of good for somebody that just did it two years ago, they’re going to turn right around and go do it again,” Brown said.

Categories: Local, Pender