Church holds first service following fire

Updated: 02/23/2014 11:26 PM
Created: 02/23/2014 12:03 PM WHEC.com
By: Lynette Adams

Church members came together Sunday for the first time since a fire ripped through a 127-year-old Wayne County Church last weekend.

It's the call no pastor expects, especially on a Sunday. But that was the case exactly one week ago when the East Williamson Free Methodist Church caught fire.

The damage so extensive it could be several weeks before services can be held there.

So instead of showing up on Ridge Road for services, the congregation met at its new home, and it was an inspirational gathering.

You could easily look at what this church congregation has lost. Some of their families have attended church on Ridge Road for decades.

But on Sunday that's not what people talked about. They talked about their faith and the blessings they believe will come out of this horrible ordeal.

“You give and take away, but I will choose to stay. Blessed be your name,” members sang during the service on Sunday.

The words of the song seem like an anthem for this church congregation. While this appears a typical Sunday worship service, there is nothing typical about this gathering of the East Williamson Free Methodist Church. If you look closely, you will see this is not a church.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your name.”

Last Sunday afternoon a fire ripped through this 127-year-old building, destroying parts of the building and damaging the church offices and a house that's connected.

But this Sunday morning that didn't seem to be the focus of this church family.

“It's about people. It's not about a building. We miss our building, but we feel connected here. God is at work here,” said Sandi Burroughs, from Real Life Consulting Ministry.

Some of the church members volunteer at the East Williamson Fire Hall. First Assistant Fire Chief Mike Bixby says it just makes sense for the congregation to worship here.

“We were fortunate last week that we were able to save the structure. We had no injuries. It was a win all the way around. This is a win. It still allows them to still be in this East Williamson Hamlet and hold church and worship the Lord,” said Bixby.

While you may expect sadness on this first Sunday after such a devastating event, there was laughter.

“You remember the message series we're in the middle of right now. It's entitled 'The End.' Today was supposed to be the end of the end,” said the pastor.

But instead, for this church family, it’s a new beginning in faith.

“Stepping out in faith, we don't know what the next step is going to be. God will provide for this. Out of the ashes comes strength,” said one church member.

Since the fire, the congregation has been overwhelmed with love, kindness and support from the community, receiving everything from monetary donations, food, replacements for care boxes members were packing for people in need.

Children's ministry supplies have been donated, as well as offers for temporary offices and worship space.

Church members say they just can't say enough to express their appreciation.

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