The congregation gets their church back

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Nick Wilson | [email protected]

NEW MARKET – Congregants in New Market had their faith shaken last June following a 3.8 magnitude earthquake in neighboring Parke County.

The only structure reported damaged in Montgomery County due to the earthquake, which was felt as far away as Michigan and Missouri, was the 19th-century First Baptist Church sanctuary. It was deemed unsafe after tremors cracked walls, displaced rafters and accelerated other problems with aging wooden structures.

“It ransacked the church. It only exacerbated all the problems,” Pastor Todd Randles said of the church established more than 230 years ago. “The building is now safe. DK Construction came and they basically did the repairs and stopped the situation from getting worse.

For nearly seven months, members met in Harmony Hall adjacent to the facility. But now church members and staff are looking forward to full use of their facility on January 30 following restoration efforts and inspections by a structural engineer.

The steel reinforcements added to the infrastructure and frame of the rebuilt building allowed for a “best case scenario,” Randles said, instead of the costly alternatives of temporarily removing the roof and shaving it down.

“ServiceMaster is coming in to clean up and get everything detailed for us. After that, we’ll be reinstalling all the equipment and furniture,” he said. we were able to bring it back here, which is not what we thought was going to happen.”

The Amish-owned construction company was able to help administrators repair the building at a fraction of the cost of traditional construction crews, he added.

Also instrumental in these efforts were Treasurer Nancy Powers, Sound Engineer Tim Dugger and Presiding Deacon Paul Buckles, who donated time and resources to get the church back in action.

“Showing that we can have a small church but have the resilience to bounce back and say, ‘God is in control, we’re just trying to do what he called us to do,’ that’s the goal,” Randles said. .

Although membership has seen a slight dip since the earthquake — and amid the COVID-19 pandemic — the faith of Randles and his congregation has been shaken but not lost.

“The church is the people; you’re not married to the building,” he said. “But it has this sentimental value. “I grew up in church here.” At some point, if we build a new sanctuary or a brand new church somewhere, that suits them.

Donations to recoup renovation costs and further improve the integrity of the structure will continue to be accepted until the congregation returns. Those interested in donating can do so by visiting www.newmarketfbc.org, or by check sent to PO Box 87, New Market, IN 47965. Checks can also be deposited at the church, located at 208 S. First St. in New Market.

Those with questions can call the church at 765-866-0083.


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