NEAR MAYFLOWER, Ark. (KTHV) -- Sunday was a special day of celebration for one Central Arkansas Church.
The century-old Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church was destroyed in a tornado in April 2011, the day after Easter, along with much of the area along Highway 365.
It is now rebuilt and rededicated.
For more than a year, the congregation had been meeting at a borrowed church, but on Sunday they returned home for the first time since the storm. They had the same, unwavering spirit and worshipped together as one family.
"If it had not been for the Lord, we would not be where we are today," said Pastor James Hayes.
He expressed thanks to the community.
"We had so many friends that had come to our aide, and assist us even in a moment of grief, watching the old building and seeing how it was just destroyed. And we are overwhelmed what God has created for us," Pastor Hayes said.
The theme of his sermon on Sunday was fitting for the occasion:
"I never would have made it without you," Hayes said.
It's a Sunday that's been 18 months in the making. Cars jammed the lot of the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church as parishioners gathered together to rededicate their new church building with songs, readings and celebration.
Khalilah Stubbs and Buck Credit are two members of the congregation who said the biggest struggle was not falling apart as a church.
"We just wanted to keep everybody together and keep everybody grounded, and knowing that everything would be alright," Stubbs said.
"We'd like to thank the community for everything they've done. Their prayers, their contributions, their love offerings, everything. The community was a big help in assisting for us," added church member Beatrice Stubbs.
"God has brought us together," added Pastor Hayes.
He said the biggest challenge during those 18 months was not knowing what to do next. Hayes said it was a day by day effort following God's lead.