Sunday, July 20, 2003

Hebron church shares its past

Others benefit from doomed building

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The steeple has gone to a church in Bellevue, some pews went to a church in Cincinnati, carpet went to a church in Covington, and doors went to a church in Sparta.

Although Hebron Baptist Church's 36-year-old building is dying, the 200-member church is very much alive.

It will break ground on a $3.7 million building today.

"It's kind of like a heart transplant. One dies, but others are recipients of the organs they were able to give," said Gayle Toole, pastor.

The congregation had to move out of its church on Petersburg Road because it was in the middle of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport's future north-south runway.

Until the new church on Cougar Path Road and Ky. 237 is complete, the congregation is meeting in an old post office building at the airport.

"The first time I walked in there I couldn't stop smiling," church member Jamie Davis said of the makeshift church in the post office building. "There is a really good spirit right now."

Today's groundbreaking is the culmination of years of planning, Toole said.

"We are seeing the possibility of the reality," Toole said.

The church sold its building on Petersburg Road to the airport for $3.2 million in March after negotiating for more than two years.

The congregation will have to raise or borrow $1 million for the construction of the new building, he said.

Last month, the airport broke ground on the 8,000-foot north/south runway. The $250 million expansion project, which includes a 2,000-foot extension to the existing east-west runway, should be completed by December 2005.

The airport bought 220 homes in addition to the church to make way for the runway.

The church will be torn down sometime in August. Though the congregation is looking forward to the new church, they are sad to leave the site of family members' baptisms and weddings, Davis said.

She said she felt that sadness this week when she noticed the steeple was gone while driving by the church.

But, she said, "it's not the building, it's the people."

If you go

What: Hebron Baptist Church groundbreaking ceremony and celebration

When: Noon today

Where: Limaburg Road and Cougar Path Road, off Ky. 237 next to library.


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