A model church, that was the message preached Sunday morning at the Gulfhaven Mennonite Church. According to the Old Testament, Paul gave thanks to the Thessolonian church because even through trying times, their faith and love were strong. And that's a message Pastor Nelson Roth says this congregation can relate to.
"We believe that God has done what he's done for us for a purpose, and that it's not for us to just enjoy the church building or the homes that have been completed, but to reach out. To do what God has called us to reach out to others," says Roth.
In August of 2005, the church paid off its mortgage. But with 'new' damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, members had to postpone the celebration. Pastor Roth says parts of the roof were ripped from the building, and that's when members and volunteers stepped up to help out.
Church Member Rose Fletcher says leaders at the church organized volunteers from all over the country. Member Milton LaViolette says the church went all out to help him rebuild, as well.
"Right away they came over and fixed the roof and ripped up the carpet and did whatever it took to get me moved back into my home. I guess the spirit of the church is something that grew stronger," says Laviolette.
Sunday that strength and determination paid off. The church held a ceremony to burn the mortgage and to celebrate the completion of all of its rebuilding projects. Members even came to the alter one-by-one to cast into the fire anything that may be robbing them of their joy. An act Pastor Nelson will help each person become who God intends for them to be.
"To be soul-winning, to be spirit filled, to be saved and to be second coming and to look for Jesus to come again," says Roth.
Some of the volunteers who helped work on member's houses came back for Sunday's ceremony.