PINEOLA — A Baptist congregation chartered earlier this year has moved in to a well-known place of worship that has been sitting dormant.

The former Pineola Church of God/Higher Ground Worship Center is the new home for Harmony Baptist Church, under the leadership of former First Baptist Crossnore pastor The Rev. Phil Murdock.

Murdock left Crossnore a year ago.

“I thought I had retired, but there’s a group that wouldn’t let me retire,” Murdock said, adding he felt God wanted him to do this.

Murdock said the congregation started with about 25 people and began meeting at Grandfather Golf and Country Club before moving into the Avery County Senior Center. Since the church was chartered in February, it has grown to 75 parishioners with Murdock anticipating more growth.

The new congregation’s first Sunday service in its new home was October 6.

“It’s just been growing,” Murdock said.

Murdock said the congregation kept getting pushed to the Pineola location as the church has progressed. The church is now part of the Mitchell County Baptist Association rather than the Avery Association.

The last service at the Senior Center, and when the congregation was required to move from the facility, was Sept. 29.

The building has been cleaned, painted, the pews have been refurbished and a new carpet has been installed, and heating and air conditioning is being added to the facility. There is also a new sound and media system being added to the facility.

“All in the attitude of worship,” Murdock said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Murdock said the church’s goal is to simply worship and love everybody.

“We’ve seen people come and get saved, but we’ve seen many people come that were so needy, needing, hurt and hurting,” Murdock said.

The church will be starting out with Sunday and Wednesday services before expanding its ministry to other areas.

The renovations at the building began before it was even owned by the church and are ongoing.

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