After more than a year of fundraising, the first steps toward elevating the Historic First Baptist Church at 421 S. First St. took place this week.

The city of Pacific has relieved the project of all fees and issued the elevation permit.

Elevation committee chairs Norbert Gildehaus and Bob Masson were on hand as crews with Expert House Movers pulled away concrete stairs and removed the iconic sign that identifies the historic church.

The next step is to dig under the structure in order to place the steel beams that will support the building as it is raised.

Benton Kelley, elevation general contractor, said Expert House Movers was the ideal firm to elevate the dual structure.

“They’ve raised a lot of buildings in Pacific,” Kelley said. “They are truly experts.”

As part of the elevation and restoration plan, the sanctuary and adjoining education center will be elevated above the flood plain and the interior of the combined structure will be restored.

“As far as fundraising goes, this was the hard part,” Gildehaus said. “After the church is elevated, a number of local contractors have offered their services to rebuild the interior of the church.”

Once the structure is firmly set on its elevated foundation, Gildehaus and Masson said they would talk with contractors who have offered their services.

The 12-foot pews donated by Jim Moore of Roanoke Construction will be cut in half to create a center aisle for weddings and funerals.

Drywall craftsmen will rebuild the sanctuary, dining area and education rooms.

Electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning will be replaced.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us,” Masson said. “But this is a big day.”