MOBILE, Ala. – Members of Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church sang the usual songs of praises during their Sunday worship service. But, this week their voices were filled with a little extra joy.
Pastor Julius Bryant said the day has been a long time coming.
“We’re really excited about it because this is a historical moment in all of our lives, and the lives of the community. So we’re real excited about getting that much closer to building our sanctuary,” Rev. Bryant said.
The first shovels of dirt on that project were turned Sunday afternoon by church members and other dignitaries, including Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
“It’s a new beginning for this church, and because of my personal faith, when someone calls upon me to help with a groundbreaking ceremony, I’m just honored to be a part of that, because I feel the church is so important in our community,” Mayor Stimpson said.
“For Every adversarial situation, every bad deal that comes about, there’s always some good that comes out of it,” the mayor said.
A Christmas Day tornado in 2012 left the historic church so badly damaged it had to be demolished.
It was heartbreaking for church members to see their church destroyed, but long time member Rose Gullett said they never lost faith it would be rebuilt.
“Knowing that God is in control of all things, that whatever he has planned for us, it’s already done. So, we stuck together as a family through this adversity, and it’s been hard sometimes, but again God has kept us together, and we knew that this day was coming so it’s our faith that has kept us here, and still guides us here today,” Gullett said.
“He’s about to do a new thing, as He say in his word. So, this is the beginning of the new thing,” she said.
And the pastor believes his congregation is on the road to a brighter future.
“Well, the journey has been rough. It was heart wrenching to see the tornado torn into such a beautiful building. I believe every church has it’s ups and downs. We’ve had our share, but I believe we’re back on our rise back up,” Rev. Bryant said.
The pastor said it will take about a year to complete the new church.