Springfield Baptist Church finally demolished

SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WMBB) — After 3½ years, there are some small signs of progress at Springfield Baptist Church on Highway 22.

A heavy equipment operator began demolishing the old church on Monday. Senior Pastor Virgil Tillman said it was a bittersweet day,

“It’s a sad day and it’s a happy day for the city of Springfield, it’s been a landmark here and it’s been a good choice for the city of Springfield, we love this city, we love the people , but we were sad to see it go, but still I’m thrilled and a lot of our people are thrilled to have a fresh start…”

Hurricane Michael inflicted so much damage on the church that repairs were impossible. Church leaders were not recommended for the right insurance at the time of the storm, so damage from high winds was not covered.

Their only hope was a grant from FEMA, which they received last year.

But instead of getting the $4.2 million directly, the money went to the state. However, the state will only reimburse the church once it has spent the money to rebuild it.

And even then, it’s only 75% of the cost.

Tillman explains, “That means we have to spend 4.2 to get to 3.1 million…and we don’t have that, we don’t have that kind of budget. Our pre-hurricane budget was $130,000 a year, we can’t borrow a million dollars.

At present, church leaders have an offer of 2.8 million to build a smaller shrine, but Tillman says it will be difficult to raise funds to start this project, and his church is not the only.

“Dwight Woods, he’s the pastor of the Family of God Baptist Church, he and I talk every week and they’re in the same boat, Port St Joe First Baptist, they’re in the same boat, and several other churches here, not they’re all Baptist…but we’re all struggling, we’re all taking one step at a time as you say trying to do it, we got very faithful people.

Despite an uncertain future, Tillman places his faith in God, hoping the demolition of the old shrine is the first step on the road to a new place of worship.

Tillman hopes the brand new church will be completed in 2024.

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