It has been more than three years since Hurricane Matthew blew through Orangeburg, ripping the steeple from Rivelon Baptist Church’s roof.
Church members celebrated the installation of a new, replacement steeple on Monday.
"It means a lot to our church family as a whole," the Rev. Kevin Ard said. "It has excited a lot of people."
The new steeple is about 20 feet tall and weighs about 350 pounds. Unlike the previous steeple, this one has a cross on top of it.
Ard said the addition of the cross helps emphasize what Rivelon Baptist is all about.
"Everything we do is rooted in the message of the cross and what Christ did on the cross and in rising again," Ard said.
Hurricane Matthew came roaring into the region Oct. 7, 2016 with wind gusts up to 64 mph.
No one was injured at the church from the storm.
Rivelon Baptist held a number of fundraisers, including yard sales and barbecue dinners, for the steeple. It also received private donations from estates and individuals from both within and outside the church.
About $8,000 was raised with about 75 to 100 individuals contributing to the cause, said David Bair, who is a member of the church's maintenance committee.
Bair believes the new steeple will withstand future storms due to its design.
"This one is fiberglass and the other one was a combination of wood and fiberglass," he said. "This one is grounded, so it ought to be so much better."
Bair believes the other steeple's weight, and the fact that it was tied into the roof, weakened the roof's structure. He said with the new steeple, a hole did not need to be cut into the roof.
Bair said he was surprised at how long it took for the church to get a new steeple but said there were other funding priorities, including the new roof.
"We put a tarp on it and kept right on," he said. "Once we got a new roof on, it was fine."
Despite losing their steeple and needing a new roof, worship continued at the Rivelon Road church.
"The church has not slowed down or stopped," Ard said. "This is a blessing from the Lord to have the steeple back. It has not changed our task and goal and that is to share the message of Christ. We have continued to do that."
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.
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