“Almost a year after the tornado, we noticed some cracks in our ceiling,” Gonia said. “We thought we were spared by this great storm, but we were really not.”
The church had received substantial wind damage. After working with its insurance company, the building now has a new roof, a new church sign, repairs to the sanctuary ceiling and other repairs.
There have also been other improvements in Gonia’s three years at the church. One of his favorites is a new library, which was created out of a former storage room. The room features wooden shelving, a leather recliner, a wooden table with four chairs, and a place to pray.
One purpose of the library is provide a way for the church to interact with Fultondale High School by helping provide books needed by students.
Besides the library, Gonia has overseen an old fellowship hall transformed into a youth room, and new large appliances purchased for the kitchen.
All of those improvements came about by another positive change at the church: Its finances are now in order.
Gonia said that when he arrived at the church, it was $20,000 in the hole. The church is supposed to pay $15,000 a year to the North Alabama Conference — every Methodist church pays money to the conference; the amount is determined by how many members the church has, according to Gonia.
When Gonia stepped in as pastor, the church was paying only 10 percent of its apportionment to the conference.
“After three years, we’re out of that hole and making our apportionment,” Gonia said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Attendance has also grown at the church, from an average of 75 people three years ago to about 95 people now.
Gonia actually oversees two churches; he is also the pastor at Walker Chapel United Methodist Church. In addition, his wife,