After she moved to Choccolocco in 2000, medical problems stopped her from being able to drive to her old church in Liberty Hill. But with some help from a dedicated pastor, a new church was born.
The birthplace? Her den.
“I went to Rev. Pitts and cried on his shoulder,” Story said. “I said, ‘I don’t have a church to go to.’”
The Rev. Harold Pitts, 93, sits on a slender wooden pew with dark blue cushions in the middle of the church building at the Nicholas Center. The names of church members are engraved in gold plating on the side. A wooden cross, handmade by Pitts, sits in the church pulpit. Outside the church, a tree stump with a cross carved from the trunk beckons.
Pitts served in WWII, founded a Bible college in Texas, and has helped restore and build new churches in Weaver, Texas and Mississippi.
Choccolocco Community Church was the last one he helped get off its feet. It’s also the first church where he has not served as a speaker.
“Tribulation work is patience,” he said.
Pitts told Story to get 25 people together — people who did not have a church to call their own — and he would preach for them, even though he was already preaching at another church in Fairway.
“I knew if I could get Rev. Pitts to pray for it, it would happen,” Story said.
After the first four home-based worships, the congregation moved to the Choccolocco Fire Department where, Story said, they remained for two years.
However, their numbers began to increase and they soon outgrew the firehouse and wanted something more. When a friend of Story’s husband put land up for sale, the couple, along with other church members, pooled their finances to buy it.
That’s when the labor of love began. Members cleared the land, built the church and even worshipped there during the whole process, Story said.
“Everyone sat in lawn chairs,” she recalled. “One elderly lady couldn’t sit in a lawn chair, so we brought her a rocking chair.”
Now they are in the process of building a third fellowship hall and four Sunday school rooms. Bake sales and arts and crafts are a few of the things they do for funding.
“It’s been hard, but so worth it,” Story said.
Rev. Tim Holder, the head of the church, was a youth minister at Story’s church in Liberty Hill. After some pressure from Story, he came to Choccolocco to preach.
“We want him to stay with us forever,” said Story. Pointing to the tree stump outside she said, “He made that with a chainsaw.”
Holder, who said he loves God and those involved in the church, can’t complain.
“Brother Pitts and God have helped me make the hard decisions a pastor has to make. It’s scary, but when you know what God wants you to do you have to step out on that faith. We don’t have to do it, but we love our work over here because it’s part of our family,” he said.
Story said anyone is welcome in their church and welcome to sing. But she advises visitors to be prepared — they’re extremely friendly.
“If you don’t like hugging, you best run to the door before we get you,” she said.
Many church congregations say they’re about one thing or for another, said Holder. Choccolocco Community Church, he continued, is around to lead people into a relationship with God.
“It’s all a byproduct of really loving and caring about people.”
Choccolocco Community Church is a Methodist congregation with 60 members. Worship is Sunday at 10 a.m. and a fellowship meal is Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Visit online at http://www.c3cmc.org.