The Lake City First Baptist Church received a very expensive and very tall gift last Thursday--a new church steeple.
"We have have been dreaming of having a steeple on our new church building ever since it was constructed, but wanted to wait until we could raise the $8,000 to $10,000 necessary to make the purchase," said Terry Mays, chairman of the Church Building and Grounds Committee. "Our pastor (Scott Miller) saw an ad in the Arkansas Baptist Magazine last year about Walnut Street Baptist Church in Jonesboro having a used steeple for sale. I had checked into it but sadly found out someone else had already asked for it.
"I couldn't get that steeple off my mind and noticed last September that it was still in place at the Jonesboro church. I called the church and they said the first people who had inquired had never made plans to come pick it up. Since we had been the second original callers, we were told we could have it, at no cost, if we would come and get it."
The Walnut Street church had placed the steeple on their first building when moving from their downtown address, and as the church grew the church plant was expanded. A new interstate was built to the back of the church, with an access road right to the church property. The church decided to change the main entrance, from the east side to the west side. With placement of a new steeple on the west, the church did not need the smaller steeple.
"This is a dream come true for our church," Rev. Scott Miller said. "We deeply appreciate the generosity of the people at the Walnut Street church."
Mays and Miller soon realized that taking down a steeple, moving it, and reconstructing it was no small feat, but one they were determined to meet.
A 100 foot crane, from Sign Systems in Paragould, was engaged to remove the Jonesboro steeple. Crane operator Chuck Russell, accompanied by Larry Kious, arrived at Jonesboro at 8 a.m. and had the steeple removed and loaded by noon.
Russell arrived at Lake City around noon, and was assisted by professional steeple installer Jim O'Neil and his son Matt of Blytheville in preparing the steeple for its new home. Jim O'Neil also serves as chaplain at the Mississippi County Jail, in Luxora.
"This project has been miraculous from start to finish," Mays said. "Not only were we given the steeple, but when we measured the roof pitch, it came within an inch being a perfect match. We feel that this is simply an answer to a prayer."
Mays and Miller were joined by Kenneth Winford, Jerry Anderson and Clay Doss at the church to clean the 1,500 pound Fiberglas steeple and prepare it for mounting.
The bright and shiny steeple was carefully hoisted into place by Russell and anchored to the roof by Jim and Matt O'Neil and Mays. The three men worked inside, outside and around the steeple until it stood firmly in place atop the roof of the downtown red brick church.
Worshippers had much to be thankful for on Sunday morning - a new steeple atop their church, their steeple savings still intact for other worthwhile causes, and a host of new friends met in the endeavor.