When the shovels hit the dry, cracked earth last Sunday afternoon, the members of Second Missionary Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau weren't lamenting the lack of rain but rejoicing in God's blessings.
The African-American congregation held a groundbreaking service Sunday afternoon to mark the beginning of its construction project. A new building is under construction at Beaudean and Elm streets in south Cape Girardeau.
The existing church is at Frederick and Hickory streets and is 134 years old. But its building is crumbling, even after years of repairs and maintenance.
The congregation had wanted to rebuild for some time but didn't want to be heavily indebted to do it. Now, after years of raising money and collecting church members' tithes, the congregation is ready to begin. Work continued Monday and should be complete by early December. The cost of the project is around $300,000.
About 50 people from the church gathered in the heat of the summer sun Sunday to sing praises and pray for the project, which was seven years in the making.
"There have been some trying times and some hills we've had to climb and some valleys, but he's brought us this far," said the Rev. Wiley Reed, pastor. "We want to express thanks back to God for what he's given to us."
Moments later, members of the choir led the crowd in an a capella version of the spiritual "We've Come This Far by Faith."
The construction project and planning process has been difficult for the congregation, trying to find land suitable for the building, hiring contractors, architects and finding enough money to pay for the work.
"I'm very excited," Reed said, adding that congregation is also. And Reed knows that "we're taking on a big goal, but we've been blessed."
Reed believes that the new building will not only be a boost for the congregation that now has inadequate facilities but also a boost for the south part of Cape Girardeau.
"There's not a lot of money in south Cape, but this has been truly a blessing and Second Baptist can be an enhancement for the community," Reed said.
With a new building, the church will nearly double its space. "That will make it more comfortable to meet our ministry needs," he said.
335-6611, extension 126