WHITE OAK — The devil has done everything it could over the past several months to disrupt the services at Live Oak Methodist Church, but the congregation is fighting back.
On Oct. 8 last year, Hurricane Matthew took aim at the region and left behind millions of dollars in damage. For Live Oak Methodist Church, which is located in the northwest corner of Bladen County just off the Cumberland County line, it was the beginning of numerous difficulties.
“Jessup Pond was destroyed and the storm also took out about 400 feet of road, so a lot of us were landlocked,” said Nancy Edwards, a member of the congregation. “We couldn’t get anywhere for a while.”
Despite that hardship, Edwards said the 35 church members “thought we’d been blessed that no homes in the area and our church had been spared.”
But all that soon changed.
“A few weeks ago, we found that the church was riddled with mold and mildew,” Edwards said. “We found it in the floors, the walls … everywhere.”
That discovery immediately shut the doors to the 125-year-old church, leaving the congregation with numerous decisions to make and little money to fall back on.
“We were told by a mold remediation team out of Raleigh that we had ‘white mold,’ which is extremely harmful to those with respiratory problems, the elderly and young children,” Edwards said. “That’s pretty much most of our congregation.”
It’s not the first time Live Oak Methodist Church has been faced with a tragedy that directly affected its congregation. Edwards said, a few years ago, the fires that swept through the area damaged and destroyed a number of homes.
“Our congregation was much bigger then, but quite a few people moved after those fires,” she said.
Those who remain are now faced with a mold remediation and restoration project that will carry a price tag of $31,000 or more — a daunting amount for a small congregation. But Edwards said the members are planning a number of fundraisers — including a BBQ plate sale, along with BBQ for $8 per pound and Boston butts for $25 (which must be ordered in advance by calling 910-866-4962) on April 8 at the Elizabethtown Middle School cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as the possibility of a tulip bulb sale and a Children’s Fun Day closer to Easter.
The congregation also has a GoFundMe page that has, so far, brought in about $1,600. Anyone wanting to contribute can go to https://www.gofundme.com/4b6zxe-save-our-church.
Since the doors to the church were sealed shut in January, the congregation has been holding its worship services at Live Oak Community Center.
“We’re using it the best we can,” Edwards said. “We haven’t missed a Sunday — our main goal is to let people know we are still here and would love for them to come join us for worship.”
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.