Rebuilding on faith

THORN – A January fire that destroyed the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church didn’t hinder the congregation.

The church, located on CR 192 in the Thorn community near the Calhoun County line, is the worship home of over 50 members who are temporarily making the Ellzey Chapel their church home while the new Friendship church is under construction.

“Ellzey is the chapel for the cemetery there,” said Pastor Gladwin Carpenter. “They hold a memorial service there each year but it’s not used much except for weddings or a funeral. They’ve been letting us use it while our church is being built.”

Carpenter and his congregation may not have many more services in the Ellzey Chapel, as the construction of their home church is rapidly nearing completion.

Lisa Pettit of Vardaman is a member of the congregation and said the swiftness of the construction is having a positive impact.

“Originally, they told us it wouldn’t be finished until October,” Pettit said. “But now we’re thinking it could be finished in August. We’re so excited.”

Carpenter said Pettit is not alone in her enthusiasm to return to her church home.

“Everybody seems to feel the way she does,” Carpenter said.

The former buildings served a 100-year-old congregation and had seen renovations and additions to house the flock. The old sanctuary had been converted into a fellowship hall and a new sanctuary was built in 1990. A Sunday School annex was added in the 1970.

“The old church building was u-shaped,” Pettit said. “It was the old building connected together. You just saw the two buildings joined.”

The new design is more open and free-flowing, opening to the sanctuary with fellowship hall and Sunday School rooms behind.

“Everything from one side is now at the back,” Pettit said.

The brick exterior has been completed and interior work is underway. Fitz Dempsey of Pontotoc was painting inside the building last week.

“We’ve got the painting almost completed and we’re just about ready to begin the trim out with baseboards and all,” Dempsey said.

Carpenter said the congregation seems excited about the progress and ready to get back into their amp”home.amp”

“We sure hope so,” Carpenter said.

Lisa Voyles/Chickasaw Journal