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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 10, 2010

From ashes to beauty by the grace of God’: Rock Road Chapel celebrates rebuilding

By Zach Simeone

KNOX — Nearly two years after it burned to the ground, the Rock Road Chapel stands on the Hill once again. The community will celebrate the church’s resurrection this weekend.

“On the day of the fire, even some of the firemen wept,” Pastor Jay Francis told The Enterprise this week. “But I told people, we can’t look at what we’ve lost, we must look ahead to what we shall have,” he said, standing in the chapel’s new dining room. Above his head hangs a field of chandeliers with metallic stalks of wheat — the staff of life — protruding from their attachments to the ceiling.

The original church, built in 1979, stood on Rock Road for nearly 30 years before the blaze destroyed the building on June 28, 2008.

This weekend, Hilltowners will celebrate the reconstruction of the Rock Road Chapel, beginning on Thursday, June 10, and continuing through Saturday, June 12.

On Thursday and Friday, from 5 to 7 p.m., open houses will be followed by praise celebrations. An open house on Saturday will run from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a dedication service, and a dinner open to the community.

“Our theme in this dedication is going to be, ‘From ashes to beauty by the grace of God,’” said Francis. “It’s larger, and it’s more modern, to meet the needs of society as they are.”

Beyond the hallway inside the church’s main entrance is the new dining room, which Francis said seats 100 people.

“After worship on Sundays, we always eat together,” said Francis.

Then there’s the new sanctuary, which can hold 500. On the floor in front of its entrance is a mosaic, made for the church by Joe “Wildfeather” Sagrotti, a local artist. Francis said he likes to look at the church as a microcosm for the tabernacle of King David, an ancient place of prayer that, in its time, was filled by artists and performers of many disciplines.

The mosaic depicts a waterfall streaming down from heaven, and quotes the book of Revelations: “Flourish by the waters of life,” it reads.

The sanctuary has been outfitted with a fully upgraded sound system, and recordings of services are controlled from the rear of the sanctuary by a large and complex soundboard. Francis, with a grin creeping across his face, called this “the command center.”

On the stage rests a keyboard on which Paul Hodges performs original music every week. The church’s youth leader, Jake Czebiniak, often accompanies Hodges on guitar.

Unlike the original church, the new building was designed to be accessible to people with disabilities, is fully air-conditioned, and provides access to Wi-Fi.

Francis hopes this new facility will serve the youth and the elderly alike.

“For seniors, this will be a place where they can gather to have a meal; to visit; if they need a ride; need food; or need a companion,” said Francis. “Young people, we’d like to help them to discover their purpose that God has for them on Planet Earth, and help them to apprehend the excellence that they’re called to.”

As for how much the reconstruction cost, Francis said only that it was “enough to choke a horse.”

“Three-quarters of the construction was covered by insurance money, and we received gifts and contributions from individuals from other churches,” Francis said. “The rest was sweat equity — meaning we worked. I was involved almost daily with the contractors and workers.”

This weekend, Hilltowners will get to see how all of that work paid off.

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