The First Missionary Baptist Church in East Biloxi had stood strong for 159 years, that is until Katrina hit the coast and destroyed the church in her fury. It was the oldest African-American church on the coast. But even though the building is no more, the spirit of the church is still very much intact.
"He has brought us through floods and he has brought us through the fire and here we stand on holy ground in preparation to build for the Lord a new edifice," says Pastor Eric Dickey.
The church broke ground on a new building Sunday afternoon with plans to build a new 18,000 square foot church.
"We stand as a testimony about the true building that has been laid as the foundation of the world and that's Jesus Christ," says Dickey.
Church members were excited to be part of the history making moment.
"To be a part of this ground breaking ceremony is just a new beginning for us because we were so saddened to see the church, to see the oldest black church on the coast to be demolished. We're just excited about it," says member Omera Baylor.
"It is a historical moment here in Biloxi. This is my roots, born and raised, and it's very exciting to see the members here at the First Missionary Baptist church maintain such a great heritage. We lay claim to that, we're very proud of that," says Dickey.
The church's oldest member is Doris Busch, who turned 100 in July. She read the church history during the ceremony. She also shared some insightful words on the direction she would like to see the church go.
"Our children need someone to always strive to help them, and I hope that this church will always foster something for the children," says Busch.
The Pastor couldn't agree more.
"Generations and generation to come will know that the First Missionary Baptist Church is here and that it is a beacon in the community."
Pastor Dickey says church members will put items in a time capsule when the church is built so generations to come can look back and remember this historic time in the life of the church and the community. Building is set to begin in January.