Local News

Faith surges at Kittrell church years after sanctuary burned

Posted August 14, 2011 7:14 p.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2011 11:43 p.m. EDT

— Members of a historic Kittrell church gave thanks Sunday for the new sanctuary they built with $1.2 million, two years' time and a whole lot of faith.

In August 2007, fire destroyed the sanctuary at the 175-year-old Union Chapel United Methodist Church, at 6479 Raleigh Road. Congregational leader Tony Sanford watched as the church where he was baptized, got married and worshipped every Sunday burned to the ground.

"It was just like you lost your brother or sister. It was terrible," Sanford said.

Insurance only covered about half of what the congregation needed to rebuild.

"The first thing people said was, 'How are we going to rebuild? We can't afford it,'" Sanford said.

Churchgoers raised about $650,000 and people from across the country came forward with substantial donations when they heard about the fire, church leaders said.

The congregation's oldest member, Mary Lee Crocker, said the fire and its aftermath made the Union Chapel community stronger than ever.

"I think it made members pull together. I think it united the church in a way," Crocker said.

Church leaders say the fire, which was battled by more than 70 firefighters in Vance and Franklin counties, was sparked by a lightning strike.