WHORTONSVILLE, PAMLICO COUNTY - It's a day members of the Zion Hill United Church of Christ have been anticipating for three years- the day their church doors reopen.
On Sunday, March 9th, the church will hold their first service after having to shut down in 2011 because of damage from Hurricane Irene. The damage they've fixed so far, according to volunteers, has cost around $40,000.
This day did not come without lots of hard work, time and donations. Two volunteers in the Pamlico County area know that well. Hank and Bettie Williams have invested a great deal of time and effort in rebuilding the historic church, that has been around since the 1800s.
"My part was a little bit of everything," Bettie said. "I helped raise money, I helped get the donations going, I helped get the word out that the church was in need."
Bettie's initiative is what helped the church get new walls, pews, ceiling and carpet. Also a big contributor was her retired contractor husband, Hank. He helped get people from the area in to fix up the problems.
"I am so glad that everything has got done," Hank said. "And I'm so glad that they are getting back in the church."
The way the Williams couple got involved is because of the long life connection Hank has with the church, and the relationships Hank built with people from the community. Hank knew some of the members there since he was a young boy, such as Rufus Greene who has been a member of the church for over 70 years.
"I missed it so much, not being able to come in here on Sundays," Greene said. "Only God knows how my heart really feels."
Another reason why Hank has a personal connection to the church, is because he helped with renovations at the church decades back when he was working for a contractor in the area.
"It means a lot to me to help them get back in this church," Hank said.
Another member who has been a part of the church for more than 70 years, Elbert Squires, says he's looking forward to Sunday.
"It's going to be a glorious day," Squires said. "It's a pleasure to know we are this close to making it back in there, and I'm glad. I hope I can make it to the end of the week."
While the church was under construction, members had been attending a neighboring church a few miles down, Saint Marks.
In addition to the work done by the Williams family and neighborhood volunteers, The Baptist Men and multiple other organizations did participate in the church's comeback over the past three years.
Although the church is back up and running there are still some things that need fixing up, and some items the church could still use. If you're interested in donating any items, feel free to contact the following persons below.
Rufus Greene, Chairman Deacon,(252)-745-4427
Hank and Bettie Williams, Volunteers, (252)-745-4458
The first church service will be held on Sunday at 11 am, and all are welcomed.