Town Creek Church Restoration
In the wake of Hurricane Florence, Town Creek Christian Church undergoes restoration of not only its building, but also its people.
Nearly ten months after Hurricane Florence ravaged southeastern North Carolina, it’s difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that there are community members who are still displaced and trying to rebuild and recover from their losses incurred by the storm last September. But they shouldn’t lose hope. That’s the one message Joseph Wescott, pastor of Town Creek Christian Church, wants everyone who is still struggling to hold onto.
If there is anyone who can understand the importance of hope, it’s Wescott and his congregation. Town Creek Christian Church, or “The Creek” as they call it, was all but destroyed by Hurricane Florence. The nearby creek caused major flooding, requiring the interior of the church to be completely rebuilt. “We had to remove all the walls up to four feet and replace all of the flooring and furniture,” Wescott says.
Town Creek Christian Church has a long history, more than 50 years to be exact. It was originally Mill Creek Holiness Church and then moved to Town Creek in the Winnabow area, on the creek. Wescott has been the church’s pastor for more than 30 years, but he also grew up in the church. His mother played the piano and his father played the guitar there.
Wescott says he was called to the ministry to help people. That’s the driving force behind everything he does. He also does work on behalf of veterans, and he’s an adjunct professor of Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University.
On the fateful day of September 14, 2018, the creek totally changed the church, Wescott says. “We certainly had faced a church yard full of water on occasion, but not like this. We couldn’t even get to the church to see the damage until the water receded.” They had no guarantees that they would even be able to get back into the church, if the insurance money would cover the damage and if contractors could be lined up. But if the creek changed the church, it also changed the members of the church.
“Something like this makes you realize what is really important, and we never lost hope,” Wescott says. The storm gave the church members the opportunity to recommit themselves to their mission of sharing their love of Christ and helping one another. That’s when they realized that a church is more than a building; that the most important things in life are the people and the community.
One church member, Wescott shares, has just recently been able to move back into her own home while she was busy doing all she could to help reopen the church. “In times like these, our angels become more visible,” he says.
In the end, Town Creek Christian Church got a new building thanks to the insurance company, contractors and the generosity of the community and the church members. They were able to return to services in the church just before Christmas in 2018 and held a rededication service in March to officially celebrate their return. Before the storm, the church was small, 15 or 20 attendees. Though it’s still small compared to many churches, today the attendance has doubled and continues to grow.
“We ended up with a new church, but we also found great love and restoration in our people,” Wescott says.