WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - One year after Hurricane Florence dumped historic wind and rain on southeastern North Carolina, a local church still is empty, too damaged to open its doors.
Now, Reverend Leon Garcia is homeless. Granted, he has a roof over his head, but the church he pastors, does not.
“Just when we thought we made progress with the insurance, city inspectors, and lining up a contractor, Dorian came,” Garcia said. “Now, we just have keep our faith and our strength going.”
The insurance adjuster has already been to Templo Adoracion y Alabanza. This historic, Hispanic congregation now waiting on the contractor to start the work to repair the roof. Now can can see the heavens from the pulpit, but that’s not a good thing.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Garcia said. “But we will find a way."
The church was founded in 1996. It sits on Seventh Street, near the corner of Orange Street in historic downtown. The church was home to Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, before it relocated to his current campus on Princess Place Drive.
“This is our home,” Garcia said. “But as a congregation we’re okay, because it’s not a building that defines a church, it’s the people.”
Now, the church holds prayer service for the congregation on Tuesday nights. It flip flops from church member to church member opening up their homes to worship.
Melvin Erazo lives in Wilmington. His home is a former parsonage, that he relocated all the way from Clinton. This week, it seems like a perfect fit.
“That’s so true," Erazo said. “When I moved this house, I spoke with God and said, `God, we’re still going to use this house for your service.”
Sunday service for members of Templo Adoracion y Alabanza is currently being held at the Hannah Block Historical USO/Community Arts Center on Second Street in downtown Wilmington.
“You’ll never be able to find another church like this one," said Maria Garcia, the pastor’s wife. “But you can say that about any church. It’s not the building; it’s the people.”
The insurance company estimates it’s going to take close to $300,000 to get the roof back on so the pews can once again, be filled.
The hope is for a little Christmas miracle - Pastor Garcia would love to the doors back open by the first of year.
“I truly hope that it will happen,” Garcia said. “I think we can get it done thanks to all the support of this community. Amen to that."