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Cumberland congregation tries to recover after church fire

Posted March 18, 2013

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— Members of a Cumberland County church combed through the ashes Monday after a weekend fire destroyed their sanctuary and damaged their fellowship hall.

Investigators said an electrical short sparked the Saturday morning fire in Oak Grove Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church in Stedman. No injuries were reported.

The 101-year-old church has about 100 members, many of whom have belonged to the church their entire lives.

"This is like losing a family, almost," Joel Morris Jr. said, choking back tears. "(For) myself and my wife, this was our life, and it's sad."

Church members and fire restoration crews couldn't access some areas of the 33-year-old building, at 6535 Oak Grove Church Road, on Monday because of a lack of ventilation. The crews braced a cracked brick wall so it wouldn't collapse to the outside, and they pulled charred pews and singed hymnals from the church as they began the recovery process.

A guitar recovered from beneath the front pew has provided the congregation with a sign that they will survive, said Rev. David Taylor, the church's pastor.

Stedman church fire Stedman community lends support after church fire

"The top part was fused to the bottom part of the case," Taylor said. "When we finally cut through (the case) and got into it and pulled it open ... well, the guitar was In there and looked like it was in perfect condition."

He plans to restring the guitar so it can be used at church services next Sunday. The congregation plans to meet in a nearby building for the foreseeable future.

Taylor said the church has insurance, which will help cover rebuilding costs, but he noted that the community also is reaching out to support the church.

A local store clerk gave Taylor's granddaughter $100 after the girl said that the fire had burned the piano bench where her grandmother played music during church services, the minister said.

A woman who lives down the street from the church also offered to provide whatever she could to help.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 27, 2013

    @hmatthew, your comment makes it sound like there is no godly control in the universe to protect churches, children, infants, etc.

    While I agree, it doesn't seem to make a case for an all knowing, all powerful, all caring deity. I mean, if I were a god, I would stop all the violence, crime, pain & agony on the planet. YMMV

  • hmatthew Mar 18, 2013

    A church is a place of worship. God puts these obstacles in our lives to see how people react to it. Just because it is a church doesn't mean anything bad won't happen. It is a man-made building made of the same materials houses are made of. It can burn in the same way a Christian's home would. As a firefighter I know that any building or anything else for that matter can burn. The congregation and the community will have to pull together and make it through this tough time. These people are strong and will be fine. God bless this congregation and community!

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 18, 2013

    Why would a church have fire insurance? ...or a lightning rods on their roof?

    It's like churches are no more protected from "acts of god" than any other commercial building. (shrug)

  • housemanagercary Mar 18, 2013

    You'll rebuild and see through this. Stedman is strong!