Churches undergo renovations, topped with steeples

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By Sarah Wilson, Reporter

Two Shallotte churches have “topped” off their renovations with brand new steeples in recent days. Members have been working to expand and rebuild to serve their growing populations.

At Unity Worship Center, a small church with a membership of about 50 on Holden Beach Road, congregant Bobby Batson made a steeple just for the church. On Monday, he and other supporters placed it atop the 100-year-old building as church members and the Rev. Tom Stephenson looked on and cheered.

Stephenson says he has relied on “miracles” for nearly a year-and-a-half to make the church he envisioned a reality, starting with offering to rent it from owner Elwood Fulford, who hadn’t rented it for years, he said.

So far, the formerly abandoned church building has received new carpet, a new bathroom and new floors. Stephenson raised all the money for the renovations using donations from the community, and he gives all the credit to a higher power.

“It’s been one miracle right after another,” he said.

Congregants like Cecil Watts and Pauline Watts of Bolivia, who gathered to watch the steeple being installed, said the church has been a miracle in their lives since Batson invited them three months ago.

“We fell in love with the church,” Pauline Watts said. “We look forward to coming every week. You feel the spirit. The Lord is working hard in this church.”

Last week, other workers did the same thing on a larger scale when they placed a steeple on top of the new sanctuary/classroom building at Camp United Methodist Church on Main Street. The renovations are scheduled to be complete the first part of September, pastoral assistant Paula Chambers said this week.

Right now, about 300 people attend two Sunday services, Chambers said, and it hasn’t been easy to fit them into the existing sanctuary, which was built more than 50 years ago.

The new, 12,223-square-foot building will include a new sanctuary and a wing with seven classrooms.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Chambers said. “We’re ready to get in there. We think once we get in, it will attract new people and give us an opportunity to grow.”

The first Camp church building was constructed on the site in 1849, followed by a second building in 1899. In 1957, the current sanctuary was built, and in 1983, the carport, additional classrooms and fellowship hall were added.