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After Arson, Gideon Grove UMC Breaks New Ground

10:46 PM, Dec 22, 2013   |    comments
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STOKESDALE, N.C. -- A year ago Sunday, members of the Gideon Grove United Methodist Church watched their church burn to the ground.    

There was some closure for the church this week as Harley Fulp, 18 years old at the time, entered a guilty plea to arson. 

Read More | Harley Fulp Pleads Guilty To Setting Church Fire

Following the news, the congregation took another step forward Sunday. Members broke ground on their new church building, located on the same land as the last church. 

Members of the congregation remember last year's fire well. 

"I remember the night that we got the call," said Ricky Pierce, a member at the church. "We came up here, and we watched it and we all stood in a circle and prayed."

Pierce's wife, Rynn McGee-Pierce, a 53-year member of Gideon Grove, called it a painful sight. 

"When the church first burned, it was a Saturday night, so we went to church the next day." she said. "It was a terrible day. We were just heart broken."

Read More | Fire Marshal: Arson Sentence Too Lenient

But, members have come a long way since the fire, and Sunday, the church continued the healing process. The groundbreaking signaled a new chapter. 

"Just the emotion, the loss and the hurt," said Rev. Wanda Lancaster. "But, at the same time, we're moving on. We're moving on and looking forward to the future."

And, moving on for Rev. Lancaster, means forgiving Fulp. 

"I offered [Fulp] my forgiveness because I know that healing and wholeness comes out of forgiveness," she said. "And, for me to move on and to lead this congregation into where they need to be, that's something I had to do for myself."

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