Highway 18 Widening Project Could Impact Manila, AR Church

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(Manila,AR) A plan to widen a highway in Arkansas is taking a large part of a church's property, which means the church will probably have to move.

But the flock at Harvest Fellowship Church of God in Manila, Arkansas say no one has told them what to expect, despite signs to the contrary.

Highway 18 is a narrow two lane that winds its way through Manila, Ark., and right past Harvest Fellowship Church of God.

"We know that the lord loves us, right?"

Highway 18 brought Sara Hughes and her family to Harvest Fellowship, where they are members.

"And we always felt like it was just pulling us in, like it was home. And then we started coming here and it truly has been home."

But ten miles west of Manila, the State of Arkansas is already widening Highway 18.

Small flags that read "proposed right of way" are stuck in the front yard, signaling a sizable portion of the church's property will soon be affected.

Pastor Linda Brewer said that is the worst case scenario,

"And if they do come through and take a lot of our parking...then that's going to hurt us."

Pastor Brewer said the church was notified in 2011 about a possible highway widening project, but hasn't had official confirmation of how much land the state will take.

If the flags are any indication, the widened highway will cut close to the church's front door.

That could mean Harvest Fellowship would have to relocate.

Pastor Brewer has mixed feelings about that,

"It's a little frightening, but yet it's exciting. because we know that whatever happens, it's going to be alright."

For now the church is holding off an on any expansion or renovation projects and counting on its small but prayer-filled congregation to see this through.

Sara Hughes is already standing on her faith,

"No matter what may happen to the building, we're still a church and we're going to find a way to continue our services, I believe."

Pastor Brewer knows it's all in god's hands,

"We really believe that god knew this before the highway department knew it."

Pastor Brewer plans to  meet with the Arkansas Highway Department soon to get more details about the project.