Mapletown United Methodist Church rises from the ashes | New
It wasn’t the kind of fire show people look forward to on the 4th of July.
Just after 5 a.m. on July 4, 2020, an electrical fire broke out inside the rectory at Mapletown United Methodist Church in Greensboro. The fire spread to the church, which has graced the grounds since 1923.
The steeple fell at 5:50 a.m.
“The devastation, the disappointment, the sadness. It destroyed our church and our parsonage,” said trustee Kristafer Adkins, who has been a member of Mapletown UMC for six years. “The current church in Mapletown started in 1883. They have (the history) that clearly dates back to when circuit preachers raced here in the 1700’s.”
Losing Mapletown UMC was not only a loss of worship space, but also a loss of local history.
“I remember that phone call vividly,” said Pastor Lanfer Simpson, who has led the congregation since 2016. “The lady across the street said, ‘The church is on fire. The week before, I had a meeting with people outside the church. I said, ‘What if you don’t have a building? What defines a church?
It turns out that people define a church, and the Mapletown congregation is resilient.
Within two weeks, Simpson had partnered with the Greensboro-Monongahela Volunteer Fire Department, which provided space for the church for Sunday services (the church returned to in-person worship on Father’s Day , after three months of virtual services due to COVID-19). The VFD had purchased the former Holy Family Catholic Church, which became Mapletown’s home base.
“I can’t say enough about the fire department. They responded to this need. We have partnered with them to continue to do the ministry. This partnership has been amazing,” Simpson said. “They have bingo on Thursday. On Thursday nights when we had Bible study, we did it in someone’s garage. We adapted, we overcame.
And now it’s time to rebuild.
The church worked with a local contractor to design a new, one-story brick building with modern amenities — including an improved sound system — that will amplify Mapletown UMC’s mission. The project is funded by insurance and donations, Adkins said.
“We haven’t really had to fundraise as much as we initially thought,” he said. “We did a few fundraisers for the roast chicken. We received many donations from the community, from other churches.
Simpson said the county, the congregation and the community have been tremendous in meeting the needs of the church and making this rebuilding possible.
“There are a lot of people who have sacrificed resources, sacrificed time. When you want something done, you just mention it and … it gets done,” he said. “I am truly blessed to pastor a congregation willing to do God’s work.”
He also wants the new church to stand proudly on land that for centuries has witnessed great sermons and a wonderful community of faith.
“I’m also excited about the novelty,” he said. “Having a defined place like Mapletown United Methodist Church is something you can be proud of. We also make sure that when we pass the torch to the next generation, they have a say. I think that’s the great thing, the unlimited opportunity for new kinds of ministry.
Last week, The United Methodist Church of Mapletown held its annual Vacation Bible School program for parishioners and non-parishioners. This year’s theme was appropriately Building Faith.
“We studied the building of King Solomon’s temple, the Tabernacle of Moses, and we talked about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem,” said Amanda Adkins, who served as a VBS volunteer. “The kids had construction-themed snacks. We made stepping stones… so that the children’s stepping stones could be part of the new building.
The week-long program culminated with the dedication of the new church, led by the next generation of The United Methodist Church of Mapletown and the community of Greensboro-Mapletown.
“I think it symbolizes a lot,” Simpson said. “First of all, it symbolizes that you are never too young to be called to do God’s work. It symbolizes a transition from generation to generation. We build on the foundations of the past to help Christ grow in the future. I’m just excited about the timing of everything working out. Less than two weeks ago, we didn’t know when we were going to be able to innovate. »
Kristafer Adkins said getting the project off the ground was a struggle. Construction was delayed and due to COVID it was difficult to estimate the cost of the new building. Over the past eight months, however, things have started to fall into place.
Mapletown was able to salvage the church bell and some stained glass, which will be incorporated into the new building, and it’s almost as exciting as seeing the next generation innovate in the new space.
“They are the future,” said Adkins, of the VBS class. “They are literally laying the groundwork for the future.”
In a phone interview hours before the groundbreaking ceremony, Simpson said emotions were running high.
“I think (the kids) don’t really realize what they’re getting into. They are happy to play in the dirt,” he laughed. “I don’t think they fully grasp the emotion and spiritual implications of being the first to dig. There’s a lot of emotion running through their parents and grandparents. We hope that years from now, as their faith grows and grows, they will remember this occasion as something that truly solidified them in the kingdom of God.