BRIGANTINE — Parishioners rededicated the Brigantine Bible Church on Sunday, with the help of those who directed volunteers in rebuilding it after Hurricane Sandy.
“I love a good disaster. It gives the opportunity for the church to be the church,” said Bill Richardson, of Wycliffe Associates, a religious nonprofit out of Orlando, Fla., that responds to disasters in the U.S. and abroad.
He thanked the Brigantine congregation for giving him and about 600 volunteers from across America the chance to do God’s work on the Bayshore Avenue building, which was inundated with a foot of water.
“This rebuilding was done for the Lord’s sake,” he told about 100 parishoners who came out for a special, two-hour service. “Nobody signed their work. Nobody said, ‘I did this trim’ or ‘I did this window.’ People came for the glory of God.“
Pastor Bill Davis said the disaster recovery has been a special experience for the congregation, which met for more than six months in the Brigantine Community Center while the church was being repaired.
“A number of our people lost their homes. We still have three or four not back in their homes yet,” he said. “It was a tough time but a real blessing. The church rallied.”
Davis said people came from all over the country to help rebuild, from a group called ReachGlobal Crisis Ministries. “They didn’t charge for labor, only materials. It saved us over $100,000.”
ReachGlobal is a ministry of the Evangelical Free Church of America.
While Brigantine Bible Church isn’t a member of the EFCA denomination, Beacon Evangelical Free Church in Galloway Township is a member and arranged for the help, said Kevin Watterson, a ReachGlobal coordinator who moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to volunteer and now lives there.
Church Deacon Bob Hoffman, of Brigantine, handles facilities for the board of deacons. He had minor damage to his own home. But he had major damage to fix at both his mother’s home and his mother-in-law’s home, he said.
“If it wasn’t for ReachGlobal, we never would have gotten to where we are,” Hoffman said.
The renovation has improved many things about the church, congregants said, even though its original footprint was maintained. Interior walls were moved, and the kitchen was relocated. A hallway was widened for better traffic flow, and access to smaller rooms moved to provide access to fellowship hall.
“It has been a blessing in disguise,” said Collin Maina, 22, who grew up in Manahawkin in Stafford Township but now lives in Brigantine. He has just been hired as assistant pastor and youth minister. He is working toward a master’s of divinity at Cairn University in Langhorne, Pa.
Meanwhile, Richardson, of Wycliffe Associates, leaves next week for his next job, he said. He’s headed to Nigeria to work on a hospital, he said.
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