While the rain kept many inside Sunday, some people braved the weather for a higher calling.
The groundbreaking ceremony for a new, nearly $30 million cathedral for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville was attended by a few hundred Knoxville-area residents and community leaders.
Gov. Bill Haslam, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro, local politicians and some Catholic Church officials and others helped break ground on Sacred Heart Cathedral in West Knoxville despite the threat of inclement weather.
Richard Stika, bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, said the new cathedral is not just for Christians, but will be a cultural hub for the city.
"It's a statement of faith," Stika said, "We invite our neighbors, Christian and non, to join with us from time to time in celebrating faith."
Following the ceremony, which ended mere moments before the rain sent many running to their cars, Haslam said the cathedral will help the community foundation of Knoxville.
"It's big for the entire area," he said, "It represents all of East Tennessee, but for someone who lives just over the hill from here, it's a big source of pride."
The funding of the new cathedral is incomplete, with current donations and pledges covering just two-thirds of the cost.
Stika said he is confident the church will find the money to complete the project.
"I trust in the Lord, and we'll get there," he said.
Stika personally thanked DiPietro and UT football coach Butch Jones, who both serve as honorary chairmen for the cathedral's fundraising campaign, along with the diocese and Knoxville community for their support.
"Everybody's making an effort to contribute one way or another, time, energy or financial," he said.
Sacred Heart Cathedral, scheduled for completion on Sept. 8, 2017, will be the home for the diocese's growing number of parishioners. The diocese today serves almost 70,000 Catholics, more than double the 33,000 when it was formed in 1988.
In September, the church's granite cornerstone will be taken to New York, where Stika will ask for its blessing by Pope Francis on his U.S. visit.
The finished building will double the seating capacity of the church to about 1,000 and increase the worship space for the church to 20,000 square feet from its current 7,500 square feet.
When the new cathedral opens, the church's current worship area will be renovated into an open space for the Sacred Heart Cathedral School and a meeting space for the parish.
While the groundbreaking ceremony included prayers and homilies, Haslam's presence brought a hint of politics. While introducing the governor, Stika joked that Tennessee might one day share Haslam with the rest of the country. Haslam later laughed off the bishop's remark.
"I told (Stika) as a patriot he should hope for more than that," Haslam said.