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Fire Destroys Church With Nearly 200 Years Of History

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NASH COUNTY, N.C. — An early morning fire Sunday destroyed the Peachtree Baptist Church, the oldest church in Nash County.

The church, which has a nearly 200-year history, has stood on the same site near the town of Spring Hope since 1909.

"God's in control of everything. There's a reason for this," Eugene Whitehouse, pastor of the Peachtree Baptist Church, said. "We don't know what it is, but there's a reason."

When firefighters arrived to the church just before 5 a.m. Sunday, flames were shooting through the windows and the roof had already caved in.

Later that morning, as investigators walked through the charred debris, church members gathered at a Masonic lodge down the street.

"Today, as we look across the street, all we have are memories," Whitehouse said.

Catherine Gupton, who has been a member of the church since she was four, has a lifetime of memories, she said.

"I remember my wedding at the church," Gupton said. "I remember my mother's funeral. I remember my husband's funeral."

Whitehouse said that although the building may be lost, the congregation remains strong.

"Our church is not that building. The building is simply where Peachtree Baptist Church met," Whitehouse said.

Investigators have not determined what caused the fire, but they have no reason to believe the fire was suspicious, they said.

As for the congregation, Whitehouse said, the members are rallying around a new cause -- to rebuild, just as the church has done before. The church was rebuilt after a fire in 1919, he said.

The Masonic lodge, he added, would serve as the temporary gathering place for the 200-member congregation.

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