St. Paul UCC celebrates burning of mortgage note
St. Paul United Church of Christ held a mortgage burning celebration on Sunday. The Rev. Dr. Carl Sweat, pastor of the Laurel Hill United Church of Christ, along with his officers, choir, ushers and members were present to serve during the celebration service.
The church — in need of many major repairs — was advised that the best way to address this situation was to completely tear down the existing temple and rebuild. After many attempts to find a funding institution, based on the very small membership of the church, one was finally found in 2012. The United Church of Christ Corner Stone Fund approved a load to finance the rebuilding and the temple was torn down on July 15, 2012. A local contractor, Charlie Johnson of Johnson & Sons Contractors Company of Chesapeake, was hired to rebuild the church. The church held a ground-breaking ceremony on Sept. 24 and the work began. The final work was completed in December, and the church held a service on Jan. 6, 2013, to dedicate the new temple to God.
Soon after this, the church started a special giving program to pay off the note of the church. In seven years, the church accomplished this task of paying off a 30-year note. This was accomplished through donations of many concerned members of the church, family members of the church, friends and many persons who had no connection to the church, which sits on a country road deep in a rural area of Southampton County.
During the celebration service, the Rev. Dr. Joseph J. Ferguson, who is the pastor emeritus of the church, served as the master of ceremony. Dr. Ferguson, who has served as the pastor for 55 years, first thanked God and then named many special persons who went beyond the call of duty to help in the financing of the church.
During the note-burning service, Dr. Ferguson lead the church in a litany, and Deacon Norman Holloway, chairman of the Trustee Board, gave his remarks of thanks to all in regard to their donations and assistance during the process, and then conducted the actual burning of the note.
At the conclusion of the service, special awards were presented to Dr. Ferguson and Deacon Norman Holloway for their dedication and leadership of the rebuilding of the church.