Panama City church continues to rebuild, gets help from Pennsylvania

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — First Presbyterian Church in Panama City is getting closer to having a roof on their building.

The church’s original roof was ripped off during Hurricane Michael. This week, decking was added to the roof, making the church one step closer to having a full roof.

“Probably within a week or two that’ll be done and then they’ll start putting the insulation and the shingles in and then we’ll have our roof,” senior pastor Ron Brown said.

The church has been in their 7th Street building since 1951. Brown says they looked at five different options after the storm, including moving buildings. After seeing the sturdy walls of the church and wanting to be close to downtown, they decided to rebuild instead of moving buildings.

“We wanted to stay here, we wanted to be part of the city of Panama City and its revitalization and believe that God was calling us to do that,” Brown said.

The church hasn’t rebuilt alone. Brown says groups have visited since Michael to help them, and this week, a group from Murrysville Community Church in Pennsylvania joined First Presbyterian Church members to assist with various projects.

“We’re able to come and use some of those skills that we have and get away from our desks jobs for awhile and serve those who are in need,” Travis Bacheoder, a Murrysville Community Church member, said.

Chris Grant began attending the church right before Hurricane Michael and is now part of its rebuilding.

“It was so hard to look at it torn down and to have any participation in making it back the way the way it was is a blessing,” Grant said.

First Presbyterian is selling its education building across the street, which is being considered for the National Registry of Historic Places. They also purchased a building behind the church and are deciding how they’ll use it.

“We don’t know at this point whether we’ll be able to use the building itself or we’ll just be able to use the property, but we’re doing what we can do to save and preserve it,” Brown said.

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