GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Thursday marks three years since wildfires ripped through Sevier County. The flames claimed the lives of 14 people and destroyed more than 2,400 buildings.
But on the eve of the tragic anniversary the Gatlinburg Church of Christ held its first services in its new home, now three years after the 2016 wildfires destroyed the previous building.
“Their church building is pretty precious to most people who are religious, and to lose that and lose that sense of comfort and so forth is hard,” Roger Comstock, preacher of Gatlinburg Church of Christ, said.
The church is now built and open. For the last three years, services were held in a temporary building. It’s a welcome sight to Comstock and church members.
“This is an answer to many, many prayers and a lot of hard work,” church member Judith Sortore said.
The only thing that was left of the previous church was some concrete and pieces of stained glass, which are now on display inside the new building.
“God turns adversities into blessings,” church member Richard Sortore said.
Both Judith and Richard are now counting their blessings. Three years ago, they not only lost their church but their home as well. They’ve since moved into a new house a few miles away.
The Sortores leaned on their faith in the hard times and continue to as they approach Thursday’s wildfire anniversary.
“Never doubt Him, even in the worst of times, never doubt Him, and never doubt your fellow Christians. They always come through,” Judith said.
The Gatlinburg Church of Christ will hold a formal open house and dedication of their new building Sunday, Dec. 8.