PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — The First Baptist Church is set for demolition to occur on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m.
The church was completely destroyed by Hurricane Michael and members of the congregation came out on Monday afternoon to say one last good-bye to their church.
Senior Pastor, Boyd Evans, says Hurricane Michael completely changed their lives back in 2018 and says the Port St. Joe community is no stranger to battling tough times.
“When that papermill shut down 20 years ago, I mean that really, you talk about messing some folks up,” Evans said. “I mean that just turned this whole town upside down. I mean it was the whole economy of this area.”
The church was founded back in 1923 and for many members of the congregation the church is multi-generational.
Mel Magidson, the former mayor of Port St. Joe, is the great-grandson of one of the founding members of the church and remembers going to Sunday school and summer camp at First Baptist.
Magidson knows the community has been through plenty of hardships and isn’t worried about their congregation after the demolition.
“Like the pastor says often, that building is not the church, we are,” Magidson said. “The members of the church. We’ll come back strong. We’ve been through a lot in this city, in this county.”
For other members like Missy Ramsey, this church watched them grow up.
“I was baptized in this church, along with married in this church,” Ramsey said. “My daughter and my nieces and nephews have all been baptized in this church and those are my strongest memories of what God has done in this church.”
The church has purchased 18 acres of land to rebuild on and views the new church as a rebirth for their congregation. First Baptist plans to use the land the church is currently on to possibly build a memorial or a pavilion. They say the land is so beautiful they want to be able to share it with their community.