Tennessee church celebrates new building after devastating floods
Waverly Church of the Nazarene celebrated the opening of its new building on Sunday, 4 February, at a new location for the first time in the church’s 80-year history.
The original building was damaged by a deadly flood in 2021 that affected Middle Tennessee, with Waverly receiving some of the worst damage. On the night of 21 August 2021, 17 inches of rain fell within 24 hours. The area has many hills and valleys, with several rivers, creeks, and small tributaries flowing into the surrounding communities. The result of the rainfall was catastrophic flooding that took the lives of more than 20 people.
Trace Creek runs through the heart of Waverly and is less than 100 yards from Waverly Church of the Nazarene’s historic building. Lead Pastor Daron Brown, who has served in the community for over 20 years, said the church location was prone to flooding, regularly taking on a couple of inches of water when the creek flooded.
“This big one in 2021 destroyed one building and completely engulfed another one,” Brown said. “That really accelerated our plans to move.”
Church members did their best to repair and salvage the old building, but it left them without a meeting space for Bible studies and small groups and no office space for staff. So thanks to donations, fundraisers, and Alabaster funds, the church began to build a new 18,000-square-foot facility on higher ground, out of the flood plain for Trace Creek.
The new facility has plenty of room for groups to meet and a central sanctuary and gathering place that is multi-functional and available for the community to use. During Sunday’s inaugural service in their new facility, Brown preached out of Joshua 24, reminding his congregation that the celebration was a time to not only rejoice and reflect but also remember the work yet to be done.
“We can celebrate, we can catch our breath,” Brown said. “But we [can’t] forget our story and who got us here. [We must] remember that we still have work to be done.”
While the church has finally recovered, Brown said its mission was to help the community recover. He likened the efforts of the last two years to a mission trip.
“We try to live as a missional people in our community, in our world,” Brown said. “A third of our town was wiped away. We made sure that while we were working to rebuild, we were giving to, supporting, and helping our community rebuild.”
Several charitable organizations aided the Waverly community’s recovery process, including Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. In the aftermath of the floods, many districts donated money or sent trailers of supplies to Waverly to help with the recovery efforts.
The fact that the church received Alabaster funds to help rebuild the church was not lost on Brown. The church has emphasized giving to the Alabaster Offering since the offering began 75 years ago. Brown said the church was humbled to receive Alabaster funds and used it as an opportunity to remind the church of its missional call. Ironically, the church’s first Sunday in its new building also marked the first Sunday of Alabaster month.
“We’ve been pouring into Alabaster for churches to be built for all these years, and now it’s coming to us,” Brown told his church. “And now we have a great perspective when we continue.”