Updated 12/24/2012 05:18 PM
A Christmas blessing like no other
After months of hard work from the community, a Tioga County church is almost rebuilt. After flood waters ravaged the inside of their sanctuary last year, Katie Husband says parishioners are excited to return to their house of worship.
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TIOGA CENTER, N.Y. -- O'Holy Night, a classic Christmas song, but if you listen closely, you can hear the sound of power tools as well.
"There's a lot of tears that go with this. People never believed it was going to come back," said Donna Martin, Tioga Center United Methodist Church Pastor.
But it has. The Tioga Center United Methodist Church has rebuilt after the September 2011 floods.
"So it's been a real blessing," said Martin.
Thirty-one inches of water covered the church 15 months ago.
"Right over the top of the stain glass windows, it came over the pews and into the cushions so all of the cushions had to be, the insides had to be thrown out, the cushion covers had to be washed multiple times to get all the mud and crud out," said Martin.
This is what it looked like this past September, which is why they were forced to move service in the fellowship hall.
"We started worshiping in there Christmas Eve last year. That was our first official service in there and it served us well but we are so ready to be back in the sanctuary," said Martin.
For the last two weeks dozens of community members have come together and worked around the clock to get this stage ready for Christmas Eve.
"We started about two months ago with the intent that we were going to be in here Christmas Eve," said Martin.
"There have been people here from seven in the morning until eleven o'clock at night putting hardwood like this little big to this big and lining them up and putting them in so we can have the service," said Martin.
Initially there were hundreds of people that came out to lend a helping hand. And all that hard work has been much appreciated.
"The people in the Tioga Center and Smithboro communities are so amazing. They have poured their heart, their soul, their strength into the ministries that go on here," said Martin.
Church members say this is a Christmas blessing like no other.
The first service in the newly built sanctuary is Christmas Eve. This Sunday a ceremony will recognize volunteers who helped rebuild.