Local News

Fire Destroys Church Sanctuary in Kittrell

Posted August 10, 2007

— Fire destroyed a church sanctuary in Kittrell Friday afternoon as multiple fire departments responded to the scene.

Firefighters battled the blaze at Union Chapel United Methodist Church, 6479 Raleigh Road. There is no word on how the fire started.

While the sanctuary was destroyed, the church's office might be able to be salvaged.

“I couldn’t believe it. It just was unbelievable it happened to us,” said Durwood Wells, a lifetime member of the church. “I was very emotional. I was in tears.”

“It was just smoke everywhere,” said Tony Sanford, a church lay leader. “They couldn’t even go in the building.”

In a matter of moments, the Union Chapel church sanctuary was gone - a sanctuary hallowed in history. It was built more than 150 years ago, and on Friday was reduced to rubble.

“It was one of the most beautiful sanctuaries you’ve ever seen, and it’s just heartbreaking,” Sanford said.

More than 70 firefighters from all over Vance and Franklin counties worked for hours to put out the fire on one of the hottest days of the year.

“Three firefighters got too hot and we called an ambulance,” said Henderson Fire Chief Danny Wilkerson.

While investigators speculate about the cause of the fire, officials said they don’t know for sure what happened. Some suspect lightning ignited the fire.

The State Bureau of Investigation is expected to be at the church Saturday morning to investigate. In the meantime, church members said they will be back on Sunday for church service – even if they have to hold it on the lawn.

Members said they’ll pray for comfort and the strength to rebuild.

“With the help of the Lord, we’ll get it done,” Wells said.

Church members said the pastor was out of town when the fire started and didn’t hear about it until several hours later.


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  • imnotsayinimjustsayin Aug 11, 2007

    My fathers family was raised in that church and it is so sad to see the building destroyed. However, the Church is made of the people and not of the building. They will overcome & my prayers go out to all the members. I commend all of the firefighters who fought the battle in the sweltering heat, smoke & humidity.
    Harvey, what is ironic about this situation?

  • Harvey Aug 11, 2007

    Oh, the irony!

  • the river rat Aug 11, 2007

    It's a shame to see a beautiful old building destroyed, lots of memories there I'm sure. Glad no one was seriously injured, including the firefighters. As for the theological implications, personally I'll stick with Occam's Razor.

  • crisco27544 Aug 11, 2007

    Like I told one of the members last night watching in disbelief...the important thing to remember is that the building can be(will be) rebuilt. The church(the people)will remain stroung becuase it's built on the strongest foundation of all...Jesus Christ. "Upon this rock I will build my church, and even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it". This is a hard time physically and mentally for these folks. SO they need prayer and support. I know they must have insurance, but I know first hand of one Lodge Henderson that is taking up donations to help these fine folks, as will a good bit of churches in the area I'm sure. Thanks need to go out to all Vance Fire depts...County and Volunteers, as well as Mitcheners Crossroads/Franklin County. They saved everything they could.

  • Jokers Wild II Aug 11, 2007

    haggis basher - I like to agree with that, I just hope God doesnt burn my house down..

  • haggis basher Aug 10, 2007

    Funny, when God burns a church down its for the good of the Congregation but when a pyromaniac or bigot does it its a bad thing and we send them to jail.....mysterious ways indeed.

    Of course it could just be that a perfectly simple lightening strike hit the tallest building in the vicinity, No gods required.

  • shecares Aug 10, 2007

    The church is with the people. This church GOD gave to the members to enjoy all this many years. Not knowing what GOD'S plans are, I feel like HE has a wonderful plan for the members. Remember, when HE closes a window HE always opens a door. Praying for a new begining. (It is still alright to miss this beautiful building that you loved for so long.) Look forward to building the new one, it shall be grand. GOD'S HANDS are on it. GOD bless everyone.

  • NCSULandscaper Aug 10, 2007

    i live near the church and it was one of the prettiest churches in the area. they just put a new steeple and roof on the building not long ago. hate to see this happen

  • whitfield244 Aug 10, 2007

    My mother lives next to this church and she heard it get hit by lightning. She said it had such a beautiful steeple and windows and it was sickening to watch it burn. The minister has only been there less than 2 months. The members of this church and their minister need a lot of prayers and support.