It has been an emotional two years, but parishioners of Centreville’s , the largest African-American congregation in the area, will soon be opening the doors on their new 64,000 square foot facility.
The 2,000-member church began construction of the new building after the demolition in August 2009 of the old church, a 30-year-old structure the congregation had outgrown. Before it was torn down, the old building was deconsecrated, which is always an emotional ceremony for any church.
“I still have a lump in my throat, I can’t swallow, when I think about the (loss of) old church,” said Rubin Cuffee, chairman of Mount Olive’s Trustee Board. “I can’t wait for the doors to open on the new church.”
Cuffee and the congregation won’t have to wait much longer, with the projected opening of the facility sometime later this year. The congregation temporarily holds services at Centreville High School.
The church, at , sits on a 17-acre site owned by the congregation and represents an integral piece of history for the African-American community, said Ralph Duke, church administrator.
The church dates back to 1898 when it was located on Mount Olive Road in a section of the community called Bush Town, Cuffee said. For years the church was the only African-American house of worship in the area, Cuffee said.
The church offers the congregation a wide array of social and education activities and prides itself on its community outreach, Cuffee said. The new building will have a central sanctuary, as well as a child-care area, sunday school classrooms, a choir loft, a fellowship hall and administrative wing.
The new facility has been a long time coming, First planned in 1999, the church—headed by the Rev. Eugene Johnson since 1992—ceremonially broke ground for a new facility in October 2005. Crews have been very busy over the past few weeks, working on the interior of the building. Workers finished installing 92 padded pews in the central sanctuary last week as rolls of carpet were being laid throughout the building.
“It’s been a lot of work,” Cuffee said. “We are really excited about what we are going to be able to do.”