Rising from the ashes: Jasper First Nazarene dedicates new sanctuary

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Jasper First Nazarene on Sunday dedicated its new church sanctuary, nearly seven years after a devastating fire destroyed almost all of the old church structure. 

The fire left the church facilities in ashes, but after working in phases the church secured the funding to supplement insurance money to build back again at 400 14th Ave. in Jasper. 

According to a history on the church website, a lightning strike to the back of the old building, where the main fuse boxes were located, caused the fire at what is also known as Jasper's First Church of the Nazarene on Friday night, Aug. 19, 2013. The church was fully engulfed when firemen arrived to begin a 14-hour battle against the flames. Later, services later were moved to the Family Life Center and groundbreaking for the new church was held the next May. 

On the two-year anniversary of the fire, nurseries, a children's Sunday School and adult Sunday school classes were all held in the new Educational Building for the first time, while a dedication service was held the following October. 

Senior Pastor Greg Wood said in the sanctuary Sunday before morning services the insurance money was exhausted for the construction completed in 2015 - and didn't even cover all of that work. 

"We had to raise dollars to build this," he said. "We originally built the shell. Then we were able to finish raising the money last spring and started (construction) in June. We actually moved in Nov. 17." 

Contractor David Thrasher, of IDC, Inc., in Trussville attended the service. 

"The first time I came up, it was a pile of rubble," he said. 

He said after a series of negotiations, the construction of the sanctuary was completed in about a year. 

The facility has about 7,600 square feet in it, following about 17,000 square feet the IDC worked on in the Education Building.

Wood said the facility will seat 486 people and another 90 can be on the platform. The old sanctuary was longer in design but the new carpeted auditorium is wider and larger in seating capacity. Moreover, the floor is flat, not sloped, and the chairs are movable, making it flexible for different events, such as weddings and dinner theaters. 

Screens are positioned to the right and to the left. Moreover, during a service projectors allow for the wall behind the pastor to display sermon points, verses, song titles being sung, all in an artistic design that covers almost the entire wall and matches the screens.

"It is a beautiful moment," Wood said. "And we celebrate bricks and mortar, but more of what we are celebrating today is what's God is calling us to, and what God is building in His people. Bricks and mortar is beautiful but it is what God is doing that makes the bricks and mortar have value. What we celebrate mostly today is the church, the people that God is building and what a difference that makes in us and in this community."

The church, which was started in 1898 in West Jasper, has between 260 and 270 members, Wood said. 

A video played during the service noted the church built a wood-frame building in West Jasper in 1910, with a brick building built there in 1942. It moved to its current location in 1972. 

"We believe that God was not defeated and satan did not win in 2013 when that building burned to the ground," Wood said in the video narration. "We believe that we are not the church that burned anymore. We are the church that testifies to the overcoming power of the blood of Jesus Christ. We believe our greatest days are ahead of us." 

The church, which holds Sunday services at 10:30 a.m., can be reached at 205-384-4492 or at its office email at office@jasper1stnaz.com. It can go to its website at http://www.jasper1stnaz.com or look it up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram