A Homecoming to remember

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Mount Pleasant Baptist Church gives thanks for quick recovery from flood damage

By Meaghan Downs

Church members trickle into the church and shake raindrops off umbrellas as Pastor Bobby Chesser conducts a short tour through Mount Pleasant Baptist on Sunday morning.
He points to the new drywall. New tile. New carpet.
The small country church’s sanctuary has also been completely rewired since a flash flood hit the church eight weeks ago, Chesser said.
The faint scent of new paint in the hallway gives away that volunteers worked the night before Sunday’s Homecoming service to finish small touch-ups.
In the middle of repairing the water-damaged sanctuary, the church had to reschedule its annual revival a few weeks ago because renovations wouldn’t be quite ready in time.
That wouldn’t be the case for the church’s 169th Homecoming service.
On Sunday congregation members filled the pews and the sanctuary with prayers of thanks for being able to celebrate Homecoming in a rebuilt sanctuary with the help of donations and volunteers.
“The people, I tell you,” Chesser said standing in his office before the worship service, his worn black Bible waiting on his desk. “The love the people in this county has showed has been unbelievable. It wouldn’t have been possible without the community.”
Chesser said one generous donor purchased the carpet in his study and the back hallway and the tile in both the Sunday school rooms and fellowship hall.
“Didn’t cost us a penny,” Chesser, who added that the church spent much of its own money fixing the building following the August flood, said.
Chesser, a resident of Washington County, said donors from both Washington and Anderson counties volunteered time and money to help the church rebuild.
The Homecoming service’s guest speaker and former Mount Pleasant pastor Harold Garrison said that about nine years ago, the church experienced a flood that left creek water in the church about a foot deep.
When Puncheon Creek rose nearly 15 feet in a flash flood on Aug. 7 that destroyed a residence and bridge, water poured into Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and swept away its steps and a 1,000-gallon propane tank.
The entrance to the front of the church, which sits near the bank of Puncheon Creek on Willisburg Road, was thick with mud, Chesser said.
The flood washed away tens of thousands of dollars of renovations finished in recent years.
Despite the devastation, worship was held that Sunday.
“Mud, dirt, everything,” Deacon Ernie Drury said. “But we had service.”
Drury, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the church, said he volunteered to fix up the church nearly every day since the August flood. Last Thursday he didn’t leave for home until about 10:30 p.m., he said.
The heavy rain and news of flooding in other parts of central Kentucky this past Sunday didn’t concern Drury when it came to joining in the Homecoming service.
“We’re just leaving it in God’s hands because it is … it’s all in God’s hands. We want to give him praise,” Drury said.
The church never missed a Sunday service since the flood, he said.
Drury, who leads the choir, said the congregation even worshipped in the fellowship hall one Sunday as the sanctuary underwent repairs.
The fellowship hall now buzzed with the voices of those uncovering potluck dishes of fried chicken, cookies and pies as hymn-singing continued in the sanctuary to give those in the kitchen time to set up the meal.
“Felt great,” James Hammons, a member of one the committees responsible for helping the church rebuild, said while waiting in line for the potluck meal. “Seeing the church, how clean it was and the work [that has] been done.”
“The Lord has blessed us to get back in this short period of time,” Chesser said.
“Again, we can’t thank the people of this county enough.”