Burned church seeks financial help for rebuilding needs
Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 8, 2004
Members of North Butler County church hope that the spirit of Christian charity will help them rebuild their spiritual home.
Home is a good way to describe Braggs Hill AME Zion Church located on Forest Home Road.
The church’s records go back some 200 years, making it one of the oldest churches in the area.
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On Jan. 10, 2003, church members were devastated when they learned that fire had totally destroyed their church home.
For a time, construction on a new facility went well.
A new floor was laid, studs and walls were installed, rafters were raised, but then the money ran out.
Since then, the work done has been subject to the elements weathering.
Some portions of the new structure caved in and the church members watched as the resurrection of their spiritual home stopped.
There is no exact date of how long the church has been located in Butler County, but according to David Crenshaw Sr., whose family provided the land for the church, it is close to if not past 200 years old.
He said one grave of slave on the property nearby could date the church as old as 1799.
According to the church’s historian, Lena Crenshaw, the church began not far from its present location and was named for another family.
&uot;The Crenshaw family gave the church the land to build if they would move it here,&uot; she said.
&uot;The Braggs family lived here so the church was renamed Braggs Hill.&uot;
The Rev. Ellis Bandy was called to pastor the church after the fire.
Since his arrival, the membership has met at an old schoolhouse located adjacent to the church.
The quarters are cramped, but Bandy said he knows and believes things will happen for the church.
&uot;We are in the process of rebuilding our church home,&uot; he said.
&uot;We have been soliciting funds and also help other than money in completing the project.&uot;
Bandy said anyone who could help on building days are welcomed and would be greatly appreciated.
&uot;We need a lot of help,&uot; he said.
&uot;We are accepting work offers and materials.
There is also a building fund set up in care of Braggs Hill AME Zion Church at Whitney Bank.&uot;
Also, those wishing to donate their time or help in construction can contact Wiley Crenshaw at 382-1243.
Family spiritual home
Braggs Hill’s membership roll number about 64, and then there is about 25 more who attend services there.
When one first starts asking about membership at the church, it is quickly apparent that members are born into the church, marry into the church and when they get there, they remain there for life.
&uot;I’ve been a member all my life,&uot; said Shirley Cook.
&uot;I was raised in this church.&uot;
During a recent meeting at the church, there were a number of young people running about with baseball bats, laughing and playing.
They quickly say they have gone to the church all their lives.
Without help, they may not get to continue.
That is why Bandy and David Crenshaw Sr. believe it is important to get the church rebuilt as quickly as possible.
Bandy estimates it will take approximately $70,000 to get the church back to business.
&uot;We are hoping and working to get in the church as quickly as possible,&uot; he said.
‘With God’s help it is possible.&uot;