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New church rising from ashes of the old

December 17, 1998

New churchBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - The Rev. David M. Carroll has passed the halfway mark in his quest to lead his flock back into its own church.

Carroll, pastor of Calvary Independent Baptist Church on U.S. 522 two miles north of McConnellsburg, has been heading up the rebuilding project ever since his church was destroyed by fire on the night of April 4.

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At the time, authorities considered the fire suspicious. Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spent three days poring through the rubble seeking clues. Their investigation ruled out arson when the cause was found to be malfunctioning electrical equipment.

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The church, which was organized 35 years ago and has about 100 active members, has been holding services in the former Fulton Theater building in downtown McConnellsburg since the fire.

Carroll said Tuesday that he hopes the congregation can hold its first service in the new church as close as possible to the one-year anniversary of the fire in April.

The roof trusses are in place and the roof goes on next week, Carroll said. Workers were preparing the sides of the building Tuesday for the brick veneer.

Carroll said he collected $384,000 in fire insurance, but the new church, which is larger, is expected to cost $522,000. He's trying to raise the difference.

About $16,000 in donations has come in from other churches and the community, he said.

He needs at least $25,000 to equip the new church with such basics as folding chairs. "That doesn't include pews or a sound system," he said.

The original church, built in 1970, was 90 feet by 40 feet. The new one is 120-by-40. The additional space will put the nursery and pastor's office on the first floor. The restrooms will be there for accessibility to the handicapped, he said. Sunday school classrooms will be in the basement.

Even though the new church will be larger and more energy efficient than the old building, it won't have some of the touches the old one had, Carroll said.

"The old church had a lot of oak trim in it. It also had some nice carved woodwork," he said.

In the 1980s, the congregation built what was supposed to have been a church school behind the church, but it was never used for that purpose. The pastor left the church during a time of upheaval and the school building stayed idle, Carroll said.

"It took a while for things to heal," Carroll said. "A lot of people put money into the school building."

The congregation decided later to convert the building into a family life center, fellowship hall and Sunday school classrooms. "We were just getting ready to move on it when the fire hit," Carroll said.

That plan will be delayed until the new church is completed and equipped, he said.

Calvary Independent Baptist Church was organized 35 years ago. The congregation bought the former McGovern one-room school building which sat in what is now the parking lot in front of the church. Services were held in it for five years until the members built the church that was destroyed by the April fire.

Anyone wanting to donate to the church building fund may call Carroll at 1-717-485-4745.

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