Firm foundation

Published 10:40 pm Thursday, August 25, 2011

Southside Baptist Church members sing a hymn during a Tuesday ceremony where they placed a Bible under the foundation of their new church building.

One Suffolk church is making sure its new building is set on a firm foundation.

On Tuesday, about 15 church members gathered to see the first part of the foundation poured by the E.T. Gresham construction crew. But there was one thing different about this foundation different from most others.

Just before the first load of cement was poured, project superintendent Gary Leinart placed a Bible at the bottom of the hole.

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“It’s a symbolic gesture,” said Stewart McCarter, senior pastor of Southside Baptist Church. “This building is not just any building. It’s dedicated to building the body of Christ.”

The church, located at 917 Carolina Road, is building an addition to accommodate more members and guests on Sunday mornings. Already, it holds three services every Sabbath to fit all comers into the sanctuary.

Leinart, a Christian, said he suggests the idea of putting a Bible under the foundation as part of every church construction project he supervises.

“It’s very important to me,” he said, estimating he’s poured about a dozen foundations on top of Bibles. “It’s important that the church be founded on the word of God.”

On Tuesday, McCarter took the Bible — a giant New American Standard that he used to use in the pulpit — and read aloud the verse he wrote inside the front cover: Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.”

Leinart placed it inside a large zipper bag and squeezed all the air out of it before sealing it. He’s learned it will rise to the top before the foundation dries if he doesn’t do so. He then placed it in the hole just before the crew started to fill it.

The group of church members sang a hymn as the foundation was poured.

“Our goal as a church is not to build a building or get bigger,” McCarter said. “It’s to become more effective and help people understand God better — to come to a knowledge of God and to grow in that knowledge.”

McCarter said he was excited about the idea when Leinart suggested it.

“I loved it,” he said. “We were like, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’”