by Michael Buck
In the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, the First Baptist Church has been a place to worship, gather, and celebrate since its doors opened in 1926.
Then, on November 5, 2017, the church and its congregants suffered a horrific mass shooting, which killed 26 people and wounded 20 others.
The church, a spiritual sanctuary for more than 90 years, suddenly became a place of mourning. It also became a site that Sutherland Springs, a community of approximately 600, was determined to rebuild.
Local and national partners, including James Hardie Building Products, came together to support the church’s re-development efforts. Complete details about the project are available at Restore Sutherland Springs.
In May 2018, six months after the tragedy, the church broke ground on a new worship center and construction is continuing. A playground, lighted parking lot, and education center will also be built on the property. The church’s original building has been repurposed as a memorial to those who tragically lost their lives.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB), an Atlanta-based mission entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, has guaranteed funding to complete the new worship center and education building. At the same time, donated building materials and services are critical to the building effort. (A list of needed materials and subcontractor services can be found here.)
“We can’t imagine what this community has been through and are honored to be able to help in whatever way we can to rebuild,” said Brian Ward, Sales Manager for James Hardie. “We want to encourage as many people as possible to get involved. No amount of help or support goes unnoticed.”
James Hardie is donating the fiber cement siding and trim for the worship and education centers, which were designed by Myrick, Gurosky & Associates of Birmingham, Alabama. The worship center features two stone-and-siding towers. One is a lighthouse that will illuminate the property, the other is a bell tower that will house the church’s original bell.
First Baptist’s worship center is expected to open in spring 2019. The church will then start additional construction, which will include a community center.
To donate building materials or contractor services to their cause, or to learn more about the project to rebuild First Baptist, please visit restoresutherlandsprings.com.