MILLINGTON — It was only in March when Graves Chapel Union American Methodist Episcopal Church sent out letters asking for help from the community to pay off the church’s mortgage.

On Sept. 7, the church will be hosting a mortgage burning ceremony to celebrate achieving its goal.

“It’s a blessing from God,” the Rev. Sheila Lomax said in an interview Aug. 27. “Now we can start working on fixing the church up. It’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the inside of the church as far as the ceilings and electric and carpet. Just bringing the church up to date.”

Because of the generosity of the community, Graves Chapel was able to get the last $12,000 of a $240,000 mortgage paid off by August. Lomax said contributions come from individual donors in the community as well as businesses and other churches.

At the Sept. 7 ceremony, Lomax said the congregation will honor the community who donated with a church service followed by a celebration outside with picnic style-food.

Events begin at 2 p.m. All are welcome to attend the ceremony where everything offered is free, Lomax said. The church is located at 10280 Big Stone Road, Millington.

Lomax said with the mortgage being paid off, the congregation can begin to focus on regular maintenance work that needs to be completed in the church as well as beginning some larger repairs.

Graves Chapel was founded in 1899 by Henry Graves, however it was lost to natural disaster. Later, in 1967, a second church was built on the existing Graves’ location under the leadership of the Rev. Paul Ruffin. After a tornado struck in November 1989, a third church was built in 1992 under the leadership of the Rev. Milton Young.

Lomax said after the church was rebuilt in 1992, the younger members of the congregation made a promise to their parents and grandparents to ensure the mortgage would be paid off as to take the burden off new generations.

“I’m just excited. You know because the wishes of our ancestors are answered now. So that’s a weight off our shoulders to know that they can rest in peace knowing that the church is paid off and that we are moving forward,” Lomax said. “It’s a blessing. All glory and all honor goes to him.”

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