Community invited to Lovells Chapel celebration
by Dean Palmer Staff Writer
PILOT MOUNTAIN — The congregation of Lovells Chapel Church will open the doors of their church at 317 N. Depot St. on Sunday at 3 p.m., inviting the community to join in a celebration of homecoming.
“This is a celebration of God’s faithfulness,” said long-time church member Prelette Tillman. “We want people to join us as we magnify and exalt His name. God has answered our prayers and we want to give Him praise for what He has given us.”
For many in the congregation, this summer has seen a return to the building that had once been their church home. But on March 31, 2010, the building’s doors had been locked and had remained that way for some three years.
The move came about after a group of about 15 members had formed a committee to withdraw from the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. After the church’s affiliation with the United Methodist Church had ended, the conference had maintained control of the building and property by right of a trust clause.
The group and others had continued to meet as Lovells Chapel Church. Initially, they had gathered for meetings at Rebecca Hampton’s beauty salon, a location they had affectionately dubbed “The Upper Room.” During that time, Tillman had served as their preacher.
In June of 2010, the church called the Rev. Judas K. Best as its pastor, a position in which he continues to serve. Speaking for the congregation, church member Linda Thompson affectionately referred to Best and his wife, Doris, as “mighty people of God.”
In October of 2010, the congregation moved into a newly renovated and more spacious downtown building at 204-A E. Main St. They continued to meet at the location for the next two and a half years.
In May of this year, an agreement was negotiated with the conference, allowing the congregation to purchase and return to the church. A letter announcing the agreement was read on May 19, during a festive and praise-filled service.
The church began to hold services in the building in early July, while they continued to clean and repair from the effects of disuse and water damage. The roof has been patched, heat pumps have been bought, mold has been removed and sheetrock and flooring have been replaced. When possible, much of the work has been done by members.
“We serve a mighty God,” Hampton said. “Sometimes we think we can’t but God says, ‘yes, you can.’”
The breakthrough in negotiations to acquire the church building came at a time when members had begun to consider other options.
“We had reached the point that we were looking for property to build a church,” Thompson noted.
“We had been praying to come back here,” Tillman added, “but we’d decided we were going to continue to serve God wherever we were at. “
“We were in awe,” Hampton said of the opportunity to return to the church. “The Lord works in mysterious ways. We had accepted this wasn’t going to be. We were out looking for land, praying and fasting that the Lord would give us what He wanted. I guess He said it was time for us to have it back.”
The Sunday afternoon service will include a brief history of the church and words from Pastor Best. Afterwards, everyone will be invited to join as refreshments are served in the church fellowship hall.
“We’re looking forward to celebrating with the community,” Tillman said. “Everybody has been so supportive and encouraging throughout this. We had different churches offer to open their doors to us. This community has been wonderful.”
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