PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A Pascagoula church reopened its doors for the first times since the sanctuary burned to the ground. Back in 2010, flames raced through the Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church off of Highway 90. Since then they have worshiped at the Grand Magnolia ballroom, but that's all about to change.
"Praise him. Praise him, and praise him," Pastor John Davis said.
Davis was all smiles Sunday as he led his large congregation back home.
"We have been gone for so long, and I am just glad to be back home," a church member said.
As Pastor Davis cut the ceremonial ribbon, it was a new beginning for the Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, a congregation whose faith has been seriously tested.
"August 26, 2010, we received the most distressing news that we could ever imagine that our church was on fire," Davis said.
"We have had many trials and tribulations up into this point, and we are praising god for this opportunity," Deacon Edwin Quave said.
On Sunday spirituals echoed throughout the crowd as church members stood on their feet clapping, dancing, and lifting their hands to rejoice.
The new building is as huge as the excitement among members. There is a spacious sanctuary, choir room, meeting halls, and new flat screens TVs.
"We had the state-of-the-art back then, and we just thank God for the newness," Pittman said.
With the rebirth of Greater Antioch comes more worshipers.
"A lot of the elderly and the old faithful are back, and it makes you feel like you are really at home," said Pittman.
And the church is praying that new folks are added to the pew soon.
"This church sits on the highway and she is a beacon for everyone to see," Pittman said. "The doors are open for everyone; it doesn't matter about race, creed, and color."
The pastor couldn't agree more, and he's just thankful to finally have his members under one roof again.
Davis is also celebrating more than 30 years as pastor of Greater Antioch.