Pastor worries Cecil Ashburn closure could affect the future of his church
HUNTSVILLE, Ala – One week from Monday crews in Huntsville will begin working on a major road project. For the next ten months, a 3.4 mile stretch of Cecil Ashburn Drive will be closed. The closure will stretch from Old Big Cove Road in Hampton Cove to Four Mile Post Road near Jones Valley.
The Southeast Church of the Nazarene is located in Jones Valley on Cecil Ashburn Road. The pastor is worried about what the next ten months will bring since the closure will cut off access to nearly half their congregation.
17,000 cars drive on Cecil Ashburn every day. The road offers a shortcut between Hampton Cove and Jones Valley, where it funnels people out right onto the front door of the Southeast Church of the Nazarene.
“Our church as a whole is very concerned about the impact that the closure Cecil Ashburn is going to bring to us,” Pastor Byron Brown said.
About 50 percent of the people who sit in these pews Sunday morning live in Hampton Cove. Instead of taking a short drive over the mountain people will be forced to take these alternate routes.
“Are they going to come? That’s my big question,” Byron said.
Brown says it’s not a question of loyalty. The alternate routes make the trip to church much longer and he is expecting fewer people to show up for church if there’s bad traffic or severe weather.
“Their heart would want to be here it’s just that they have a challenge to get here and they cannot get here,” he said.
This is a small church with a congregation of about 100 people. The church is supported through their donations. He says if half of its members can’t be there on a regular basis it could seriously hurt them financially.
“Stability, our strength in those times of the bad weather, those possibilities, it is a huge concern for us. And the big question is can we survive during that period of time? We believe we can and we believe our people will be faithful to get here as often as they possibly can, but it is a concern,” he said.
So while the road is closed, Brown says his church will be living on prayers, prayers for good weather, speedy construction, and smoother roads ahead.
Pastor Brown says they did think about opening a satellite church in Hampton Cove to accommodate members there, but they decided against it because they don’t have the numbers to support to locations. He says he is preparing for the closure by reminding members about the roadwork and asking them to consider carpooling to church.
Click this link to read more WHNT News 19 stories about the project.
The City of Huntsville is providing information about the project through their website.