In dramatic contrast of that cold tragic December day when the Gethsemane Baptist Church in Marengo burned to the ground, the June Open House glowed with warmth, sunshine and excitement.

Members of the community were invited to Gethsemane Baptist Church located at 4000 County Road 217 in Marengo on Saturday June 13, 2015.

On December 10, 2013 the church building burned to the ground. The congregation of about 50 people has been meeting at the Ohio Retreat Center at Camp Marengo.

On Sunday June 14, the congregation worshiped in their new church home for the very first time.

“As we were standing in the cold watching the church burn down, we could not have seen this,” recalled Elder Bryan Miller as he surveyed the beauty of the new church building.

“Every Sunday is special, as we have a chance to worship the Lord but this Sunday is extra special as we worship the Lord in our new church building,” shared Pastor Donnie Hale.

Pastor Hale recalled the sequence of events that led to this day. “Churches have a life cycle. There was two churches at different ends of the life cycle that came together to form the nucleus of this church, Mt. Liberty Bible Fellowship and Gethsemane Baptist Church.”

He explained that for a few months there was an interim pastor until he and his family moved away to California to be a professor at which time Gethsemane then appointed Pastor Hale as the new Pastor of the two merged churches.

Hale unofficially started as pastor in June of 2013 and was ordained in August of 2013. The fire occurred on December 10, 2013 just four months after he was ordained.

The congregation of about 50 people has been meeting at the Ohio Retreat Center at Camp Marengo since the time of the fire until now.

Pastor Hale used this opportunity to share what Gethsemane Baptist Church is about, what the mission is and what they want to be known for.

Proclaim, Disciple, Serve, was the theme of the first sermon. Our mission is to worship God.

When asked how it felt to preach for the first time in the new building Hale replied, “I was a little nervous, I didn’t know we would have this many people. Once I got rolling, it was great, a real blessing.

“We have received an amazing generosity on the part of the community immediately after the fire and including up until now.”

The church especially wanted to thank Camp Marengo for allowing them to meet for services for the past 18 months, Schrock builders for the exceptional workmanship and the generosity of many many others.”

Reach Donna carver at 419-946-3010, ext. 1804 or on Twitter @MorrCoSentinel.