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Wilson County church will rebuild

Posted June 14, 2010
Updated June 15, 2010

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— A historic Wilson County church struck by lightning Sunday evening will be rebuilt and will be stronger than ever, its congregation's pastor said Monday.

Firefighters said lightning from a summer storm hit the 110-year-old Nobles Chapel Baptist Church on Old Raleigh Road in Sims just after 6 p.m. and quickly engulfed it in flames.

Churchgoers arriving for Sunday evening service were able to salvage some items from the flames before they – and firefighters – had to pull out as the fire became too dangerous.

Firefighters saved the fellowship hall, and no one was injured, but the main sanctuary burned and the steeple collapsed in the blaze.

Wilson County church will rebuild Wilson County church will rebuild

"There's a lot of grief among our members," Rev. Rodney Walls, said.

"It's tragic to see it," Esta Bailey, 88, and one of the church's oldest members, said. "When we left yesterday, we didn't realize that would be the last time we'd see it standing."

Church members said they have already had offers of help from neighboring congregations.

"This happened for a reason. We don't why, but the church will come back stronger," church member Rudolph Hinnant said.

For now, many say they are holding on to the last sermon they heard in the church's sanctuary. Hours before the fire, a visiting pastor preached about weathering the storm.

"We didn't know, but something tragic was going to happen," Bailey said. "(And that sermon's helping us) through it."


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  • reid47960 Jun 14, 2010

    This is my sister and brother in laws church. My brother in laws parents donated and dedicated the steeple in remembrance of parents. Sometimes God tests us in ways that we will not understand at the moment. It is a tragedy that this happened and this family of this church will overcome and continue to preach his word.

  • Lightfoot3 Jun 14, 2010

    Zeus strikes back!!!

    Seriously, sorry the church burned. Even religious buildings aren't shielded from nature. Wish them well in their rebuilding.

  • 2SWEETBOYS Jun 14, 2010

    you're absolutely correct "crystalellis"......well said indeed!

  • crystalellis Jun 14, 2010

    Steeples have been placed on churches for several reasons, one being that churches have always been a safe haven and a place of refuge in a town's center and orginally churches were built on the highest point and steeples with bell towers were placed on top so that everyone could see and hear it from miles away. Symbolically the steeple reaches towards the heavens and toward our God. A God that uses ligtning and storms to breathe a consuming fire of renewal and birth into people's lives, because we know All things work together for our good because we are his children and we have more than his protection, we have his love. It is obvious that you have little faith and little respect for yourself or your fellow man, that you would use someone's loss, especially the amazing people in this community, as an opportunity to snub your nose at a God you obviously do not believe in, but Thank God he still believes and loves you. That is what the cross that sits upon the steeple repre

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 14, 2010

    If this is indeed a "heavenly editorial" on the church and/or the people in it, why do the churches still stand where child rapes have taken place?

    There are many, many new church child molestation cases every year and the consensus seems to be that they are seriously under-reported. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2007/06/18/80877.htm

    Why haven’t all of these churches been hit by lightning and burned down? Maybe children aren’t a priority?

  • timbo 2.0 Jun 14, 2010

    "Poor timbo....you miss the REAL message."

    What message did I miss? I'm just sayin', it sounds like an heavenly editorial on much more than the structure too.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 14, 2010

    I've always wondered... Why do churches have lightning rods? They're all over the roofs of these things.

    I mean, if they think that a god controls lightning...aren't they second-guessing his omnipotence?...and wouldn't he already know what they were thinking...that they don't want lightning burning down his worship center? It's like they know their own god won't protect them.

  • lookn4spac Jun 14, 2010

    Poor timbo....you miss the REAL message.

    They WILL rebuild because the Church is so much more than just this structure. They will find the rest of the message as they rebuild. Luckily, it looks like the brick outer wall is intact-I hope they can keep the old as they move on to rebuild the rest.

  • timbo 2.0 Jun 14, 2010

    If a lightening strike is considered an act of god, and they want to rebuild, it seems they can't take a hint.

  • colliedave Jun 14, 2010

    Hope the church comes back a stronger body b/c of the fire as the church is not about a building.