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  • Center Church in Murphy took the church out of the building and into the community on Sunday, March 18, cleaning up debris in a Hayesville neighborhood from a severe storm that impacted Clay and Cherokee and counties.

Church is more than a building when it’s in you

  A quartet called Acapella used to sing a catchy song with the chorus, “You can’t go to church / ‘cause the church is you.” A few weeks ago, a local group proved that to be true, taking the church into the community for a charitable cause.

On Saturday, March 17, severe storms with tornado warnings struck Clay and Cherokee counties, forcing many residents to hide in their cellars or under the stairs. The devastation was particularly noticeable from Peachtree to Hayesville, with large trees uprooted and homes damaged.

In the weeks leading up to that, Center Church of Murphy Pastor Ben Pope had been preaching a series of messages from 1 Corinthians 13, which often is referred to as the “love” chapter because of verses like 2b, which reads, “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

After spending some time with this family in his own cellar during the storm, Pope continued working on the next morning’s sermon. However, instead of giving him something to preach, Pope said the Lord told him that instead of just talking about love, they could put that love into action.

After learning of significant damages in the Hayesville neighborhood where one of Center Church’s members lives, Pope told his small congregation of six families that instead of sharing a message from the pulpit on March 18, he wanted them to live it in the community. So they did.

Mi-Po Tree Service was kind enough to share their equipment, gas and expertise and “the whole church showed up,” Pope said. They cut trees, removed debris and otherwise made the day of some complete strangers. As usually happens when you’re doing something for the Lord, the workers received the most from it.

“The whole experience was just a blessing,” Pope said. “It’s amazing to see God’s word put into action. The church got even more out of it than the people whose homes we cleared.”

Pope and Nick Smith formed Center Church about four years ago. They meet in a building off Andrews Road near the Sweet Tooth. One of their main goals this year is to make sure the community knows who they are and to use love to do that. 

The video they posted on Facebook about the church’s efforts that morning is helping accomplish that mission.

“It’s God at work,” Pope said. “We made the video primarily for our church, to show them that even though we’re small, we can do something big for the Lord.”

Other people are noticing.

“What a wonderful testimony,” Maggie O’Neill Metzger wrote on Facebook.

Some people say they don’t take part in church because of so-called hypocrites, but nobody who walks the Earth can claim moral perfection. What we can be is the best people we can be and the members of Center Church showed that when they put their love into action.

“I love where I live,” Pope said. “From the newspaper to the schools, it’s a blessing to find so many people who love the Lord.”

David Brown is publisher of the Murphy Region of Community Newspapers Inc., which includes the Clay County Progress. E-mail him at

By David Brown Guest Writer

Clay County Progress

Mailing Address: PO Box 483, Hayesville, NC 28904
Physical Address: 43 Main Street, Hayesville, NC 28904
Phone: 828-389-8431
Fax: 828-389-9997