By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
Almost two years after a tornado heavily damaged a north Jefferson County church, the pastor has a message: “We’re alive and well.”
Mika Marcum at Fultondale First Baptist Church said it has taken nearly two years to get insurance issues straightened out after the tornado struck. But within the last month, crews have completed renovations and an addition to the church, with more to follow.
A former gym at the church campus has been transformed into a two-story children’s wing, with space for all ages from infants to high school students. The upstairs portion is still unfinished, including an area that will accommodate 240 youth. Marcum said the space will be completed by Easter.
To the south of the old building, a new addition was added, with a wide hallway and several offices.
The sanctuary and the fellowship hall were the only areas undamaged by the tornado, but the sanctuary is slated for a complete renovation by this summer.
Other improvements are planned, including resurfacing the parking lot, adding more parking, landscaping the campus and doing more renovations
to the church building’s exterior.
Since Marcum stepped in as pastor of the church in September, attendance has doubled, jumping from an average of 75-80 people a week to almost 170. The youth ministry has much more than doubled, increasing from two students a week to almost 30.
The staff has also grown. Since the church brought on Marcum, it has hired three other people — a
worship pastor, student pastor and children’s minister.
However, Marcum takes credit for none of it.
“God has blessed us,” he said.
In order to reach out to more people, the church will start offering two services starting on Easter Sunday: A traditional service at 8:45 a.m. and a contemporary one at 11:15 a.m.
“We think it will enable us to reach more people,” Marcum said. “The more relevant we become, the more we will grow.”
Marcum is also pleased that the church is starting
to reach across cultures. There are now a few black and Hispanic families attending, where people from those groups were previously absent at services.
“It’s encouraging, knowing all ages and all cultures feel welcome,” he said. “We really want to reach out to all.”