Way back in 1915 — 104 years ago — McCoy Methodist Church opened a brand new church building at the corner of 19th Street and Moore Avenue in Anniston.

Over the years, the church thrived. Its membership grew to more than 900. It was said to be the second-largest church in town.

And then, in 1978, McCoy Methodist moved to a new building on Brighton Avenue on the other side of town, lured by the promise of new neighborhood development that never came.

The old church building was put to good use. Part of it was rented out to the Calhoun County Food Stamp Office for seven years, until the office relocated in 1985.

For the next two years, the old church building sat neglected. The roof leaked. Walls crumbled. Doors rotted. Pigeons moved in.

At then, in 1987, it became a church once more.

Its new owners, Anniston Full Gospel Holy Temple, are celebrating the history and restoration of the 104-year-old building with a celebration on Sunday at 3 p.m. — and they’re inviting members of McCoy Methodist Church to join them.

Cliff and Sandra Underwood are planning to be there.

The Underwoods joined McCoy Methodist Church in 1958. Cliff is now 90 years old. Sandra is 79. Cliff was baptized in the Moore Avenue building, as were the couple’s two children. Sandra played the organ for church services. For many years, Cliff was a Scoutmaster for the church’s Boy Scout troop and had an office at McCoy. “We always loved to serve in church,” he said.

The Underwoods recently shared memories with the leaders of Full Gospel Holy Temple — pastor Macy Carr, his wife, Lana T. Carr, their son Christopher Carr Sr., and church secretary Theletha Williams (whom the church kids like to call “the general”).

“I am so proud of how this building is being refurbished and taken care of in such a wonderful way,” Sandra Underwood said.

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It has taken many years and a lot of sweat equity to bring the church on Moore Avenue back to glory. The abandoned building was purchased in 1987 by the Back to the Bible ministry, which had begun as a Bible study in the home of Macy Carr but now needed more space.

(The church later joined with Full Gospel Holy Temple of Dallas, and in 2010 changed its name to Anniston Full Gospel Holy Temple.)

The new owners had a lot of work ahead of them. “It looked like a city dump,” Lana Carr said. “Holes in the walls. Old clothes everywhere. Wires everywhere.”

It took months to get the building cleaned up enough to hold the first worship service on Sept. 24, 1987.

Much of the renovation work was done by church members, of whom there were about 50 back in the beginning.

“There were a lot of nights we stayed up here till 11 o’clock or midnight,” Macy Carr said. “I have to give the members credit. They could have been home, but they were here instead.”

Full Gospel Holy Temple now houses two worship spaces, a fellowship hall, church offices and a children’s center.

It’s taken 32 years to get the building to this point. The mortgage was paid off in 2000. Most recently, the parking lot was repaved and gated. “At this point, 99 percent of the work on the building has been done,” Christopher Carr said.

The one thing that remains to be renovated is the church kitchen, which is in the basement. The church kids refer to it as “the dungeon.”

“One of the men told me that when this church was built there was no basement. They dug it out by hand,” Cliff Underwood remembered. “We used them old stoves you got down there.”

“I washed a lot of dishes in that sink,” said Lana Carr.

“I cooked a lot of pancakes,” said Macy Carr.

Membership at McCoy Methodist has declined over the years since the church moved up the hill. “It is now very small,” said Sandra Underwood.

Full Gospel Holy Temple has grown to about 150 members, including about 60 children. Over the years, the church has purchased several church vehicles, two community properties and a church home.

The church has also grown its outreach ministry in the local neighborhood. One of its goals for the future is to open a children’s center that would be open to the community.

But the building remains the same. Every now and then, people who attended McCoy Methodist Church when they were kids will stop in at Full Gospel Holy Temple. They reminisce about singing in the children’s choir, or attending Vacation Bible School. “They want to sit and reflect,” said Christopher Carr. “They say it looks just the same.”

Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or ldavis@annistonstar.com.

Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.

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