Members of Jasper First Church of the Nazarene were joined by several guests invited to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the new church.
The church was destroyed on Aug. 9, 2013, by a fire that started after a lightning strike during a severe thunderstorm moving through the city.
Jasper firefighters worked for several hours trying to save the building, which was engulfed in flames that reached more than 100 feet into the air.
Jasper Fire Chief David Clark, who was among those who fought the blaze, attended Sunday’s service.
Jeremy Pass, pastor of Jasper First Church of the Nazarene, said Monday that church members have been diligent in their belief that the church will return even stronger than before.
“We’re celebrating a new beginning,” Pass said, adding that the past few months have been challenging for the church and its members.
“It’s been a long road,” he said. “It’s been a road that has made us question ‘Why?’ and asking God ‘What is your plan now?’”
In addition to the fire, the church went through a change in leadership that included the loss of the church’s pastor and youth pastor.
Pass, the former youth pastor at the church, was named the church’s pastor in February.
“Slowly and surely, we’ve put things back together and built things up even better,” he said.
Since his appointment as pastor, Pass said he has prayed many times for guidance as to rebuilding the church.
“We started off the year just praying and fasting and asking God to put the right thing together, and He gave us a wonderful company to help us with this project.”
IDC, Inc., based in Irondale, was selected to rebuild the church, Pass said.
“They are a great group of Christian men who we feel will do a great job for us,” he said.
David Thrasher, president of IDC, Inc., was among those who participated in Sunday’s groundbreaking.
“They’ve gone above and beyond who they are,” Pass said, adding that the company provided a flatbed truck for Sunday’s ceremony, as well the sholvels used in the groundbreaking.
“They’ve been awesome,” Pass said. “That says a lot about who they are.”
The new church will be slightly bigger than the previous building, with a few minor differences.
“It will sit on the same footprint,” he said, “but it will be arranged differently.”
Where the main sanctuary did sit, Pass said that will be the children’s sanctuary, as well as children’s classrooms and a nursery. That will flow into a common area and foyer. The main sanctuary will be where the children’s church once was.
The church will be built in three phases, with the children’s area part of Phase 1, followed by the common area and foyer as Phase 2 and the main sanctuary as Phase 3.
The church’s parking lot will also see a few changes, he said.
The project also calls for construction of a new field to host the church’s Upward football program.
“That’s exciting because it will allow us to do more outreach,” Pass said.
In all, the project is expected to take about two years, Pass said.
The first two phases should be completed in a little more than a year, with the final phase taking another year to complete.
In 1996, the church suffered extensive damage from another fire.
Going through an emotional event like a fire has helped strengthen the church, Pass said.
“It really has,” he said. “From what I see, it really has strengthened our church.”
Members have been resilient in their belief that the church will remain strong, he said.
“Some have said that the Lord wasn’t done with us then, and He’s not done with us now,” he said. “Someone told me last night that every time you build back, you build bigger and stronger. And we have, and we will.”