Part 1: Church Construction in Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew and subsequent flooding from the disaster wrought massive devastation up and down the east coast. Churches in the region were just as vulnerable as the countless homes that were damaged and destroyed.
One of those churches was Crossroads Church in Benson, NC. Scott Betts, senior pastor, says that the church, which first started meeting in August, 2009 has had to trust in God and have faith that He was in their mission from the first meeting they held.
"We took possession of our facility in downtown Benson and held our first service and were told that we can't be in the facility," he said. "Benson was in the midst of a downtown beautification project, and I guess they didn't think that a storefront church was the best for the project."
Challenged from the Start
Betts and his team petitioned the town board of commissioners and won a hearing allowing rezoning of their building, and by November, 2009 services were once again allowed. Fast forward to Oct. 8, 2016: just as the church has grown and made the most of its downtown facility, it suffered significant damage associated with flooding from Hurricane Matthew.
Betts says that the last eight years helped prepare the church for the massive task of repair and renovation.
"As our church has continued to grow we have always been in a constant state of change. Space is at a premium in this building and we've constantly had to tweak things to make it work," he said. "The hurricane caused by far the most change for us, but the church family and community came together like you wouldn't believe to help us through."
God's Hand of Protection at Work
In the aftermath of the hurricane Crossroads was left with 14 inches of standing water throughout its foyer, auditorium and children's rooms. To make matters worse, the entire town was put on lockdown. Betts and his team worked the phones and social media channels spreading the news about the flood and getting help. The church came together on Sunday, the day after the flooding and helped clear everything out of the building and move it outside to dry. By Wednesday that had secured a nearby building to use for temporary storage.
"God's hand of protection was with us through the whole ordeal. We were given use of an empty building which we now lease for our offices, and even though this is not a flood zone we were covered by flood insurance and a lot of our equipment was able to be replaced because of it," Betts said.
That hand of protection continued to be evident in the weeks to follow. The sanitation department removed all of our debris from the storm at no charge. The principal of South Johnston High School gave the church full use of the school auditorium, classrooms, projectors and free storage space to store equipment during renovation, and that was just the beginning.
"We went from a permanent church to a portable church in a week," he said. "The school let us put up large banners in front of the school and the community really got behind us."
Betts says that use of the auditorium alone normally costs $100 per hour, but for their six weeks of use Crossroads was never charged a dime.
"We actually grew as a church during our time at the high school. Our church family took on more ownership because of the circumstances and our numbers increased as well. We even baptized someone on the auditorium stage that last week we were there."
Part 2: Renovation Brings Warmth and Contemporary Design
As for the renovation taking place while the church met in the school, Betts and his team did a majority of the work in house, but they sought out the creativity of Designer Lisa Masteller to get the most out of the renovation. Betts said that he and his team had to cut most walls up to 30 inches from the floor to remove damage, then had to have mold remediation performed. From there, Masteller was instrumental in choosing floor types and colors, wall colors and designs and general design themes.
Masteller was pleasantly surprised to hear that the church had contracted the high end manufacturer Floorscapes to replace the damaged flooring throughout the church. It turns out that the help of Floorscapes was another sign of God's provision. One of the deacons of the church is a friend of the company's director, and because of this connection Crossroads was given all products at dealer cost and Floorscapes installed them all for free.
"You would think with it being a free job they would've just slapped down the flooring quickly and been out of there, but that wasn't the case," Betts said. "They removed all of the old tile, cleaned the concrete and used commercial grade machines to professionally install our new floors. They did everything with first class quality. There is no way that we could have afforded the quality of product and installation any other way."
Masteller suggested LVT flooring in the foyer area and picked out a beautiful grayed wood design for the product.
"Sound factor is the primary key for flooring in this area," she said. "The LVT will keep the sounds of high heels and work boots from becoming a distraction and the wood grain really brings a warm feeling to the space."
She finished off the foyer design with dark wood planks and face brick accent walls as well as bold splashes of color which she says give the space a fun, contemporary feel." This warm feeling is continued right into the auditorium, where the use of dark wood on the walls with sporadic light blue splashes of color provides a great contrast.
In the kids ministry rooms Masteller proposed an hombre effect where the walls seemed to bleed into the carpeted floors. The Crossroads team wanted to give these rooms a punch of color and Floorscapes continued this in the carpeting, painstakingly matching the various colors of the walls.
As for the youth room, black walls in the room give it a concert effect during worship time and a new raised stage and video monitor also enhance the experience.
Even with all the tremendous changes that came from the renovation, one thing that cannot be changed is the amount of space that Crossroads has to work with. Following the conclusion of the renovations in December, the church moved their offices across the street to free up some space, but that is only a drop in the pan compared to the amount of growth they have experienced.
In a town with a population of 3,500, Crossroads is now seeing nearly 500 people come through their doors each week. It's a problem, however, that Betts and his team welcomes.
"We're challenged right now, and we'll have to take another step in the not too distant future," he said. "Once again, it seems like we're always in a state of change, but I think that's how it should be for a growing, healthy church, right?"
Crossroads is currently exploring building options including a possible renovation of a former Food Lion grocery store in the area. For Betts, who used to work as a construction manager remodeling grocery stores, this type of renovation would feel right at home.
"I've been a part of remodeling 20 Food Lions, so I'm used to being out in the dust, dirt and grime of a renovation," he said. I love to see it come together, and with our church it will be a great experience. We have tons of people in the church that can do a bunch of different stuff. We'll do it with excellence, but not extravagance."