Church empty for 48 years will dedicate fellowship hall June 13
___MOODY--A photograph of a lone man sitting in the middle of an abandoned church building was the tool God used to call Marion Ford to Eagle Springs Baptist Church.
___The picture on the front page of the Waco Tribune was published the morning Ford was leaving for a trip to the East Coast and Cincinnati, Ohio, for a month-long preaching tour. When he returned, the newspaper still was lying on his desk, and the image of that man in a church that had been closed for 48 years still was speaking to Ford.
___Ford and his wife decided to go and see the church in person.
___After visiting the rural church, which has Moody seven miles away as its closest reference point, they began talking to some of the residents of the area. Soon plans were being made for a Christmas meeting.
___The church officially reopened Feb. 1, 1998, after having been closed for 48 years. Thirteen were in attendance that day, but the church now consistently averages more than 80 each Sunday morning.
___Ford said he knows what brought the people back to the church.
___"It was God that did it, and he's doing it every Sunday. We can't get over it, and most can't understand it, but God is faithful," Ford said.
___Eagle Springs holds only Sunday morning services --no services on Sunday evenings or Wednesday nights--but a once-a-month song service on Saturday nights brings in many who don't attend the church.
___"Our last Singspiration, we had 99 there and we just can't get over it. It lasts for two hours, and the people get there early," he reported.
___Ford said preparing the 30-by-40-foot building for worship presented a great challenge.
___"It was filthy. We had to wash everything down. We had to paint the inside and the outside, replace the underpinnings and have someone come and rewire the whole thing. It was a big job," he recalled.
___"Now people come and find a clean building with quiet ceiling fans and a Hammond organ. It's real nice," Ford said, "but it took a lot of hard work."
___Ford said he hopes the success with the resurrection of Eagle Springs will encourage others to try to same thing.
___"We want to serve as a model for other rural churches that have been closed a long time. We hope some other pastors will look at us and see that those churches reopen and get people back in them again," he said.
___Eagle Springs will celebrate a homecoming June 13 to commemorate 142 years as a church. The day also will be the dedication day for the church's fellowship hall.
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