MARICOPA — It was a defining moment for the members of Mount Moriah Community African Methodist Episcopal Church as the groundbreaking ceremony for their new church was held last Saturday morning.

Members, pastors and a few council members gathered at the project site, 19275 N. Gunsmoke Road, greeting each other and celebrating the new milestone for the project, citing it as a “long time coming.”

From 2007 — when the church was officially recognized with the founder and then-pastor Rev. Sheriolyn Curry Lasley — to 2013, when the church’s current pastor, the Rev. Arnold L. Jackson, and its congregation moved to the Maricopa Veterans Center as the temporary site of worship, they have kept their vision of building a church. Since then, a Church Building Fund was started in hopes of one day building a permanent church in Maricopa.

“For Mount Moriah Church, a dream has become a reality,” Presiding Elder Rev. D. Charles Warry said during a speech prior to the groundbreaking. “And a living witness for who shall pass by the word of God for generations to come in the Arizona/New Mexico District.”

Building a church from ground up is not an easy task, as explained by Mayor Christian Price, who attended the ceremony in support of the church. The six-year process took negotiations with architects, engineers, building contractors and banks to execute the plan the church once dreamt of. Today, the church building fund has increased to approximately $37,000.

“We are here because we have a vision of what we’re supposed to do,” Price said. “When I see this groundbreaking I think about all of the hardships that we’ve gone through, that you’ve gone through to bring this day here.”

Judy Berry, the real estate consultant for the property, remembers the day when she first showed the land to Jackson. According to Berry, the area was mostly mud due to heavy rain and was filled with tall weeds and shrubs. Yet she saw this as a perfect spot for the church to be located.

The 1.25-acre site is now the foundation ground of Mount Moriah Church.

“The building will be strong, the foundation will be solid,” Jackson said. “The Mecca in a desert” is what he described their vision to be.

“Our church is so friendly and lovable. We make them feel at home and welcome them,” said Helen Brown, a member of the church. “I hope we will grow from the church being built.”