Church fire unable to smother congregation's spirit

Church fire unable to smother congregation's spirit

BAY, AR (KAIT) - After a week of planning, the Bay United Methodist Church worshiped for the first time since a fire destroyed their sanctuary.

Many members of the church said Sunday they were shocked to hear of the damage done to their building.

Terri Morrison Craft lives across the street from the church and walked outside to see it burning.

"It's something you never want to see when you walk out your front door and see that your church is on fire," Craft said.

Even after the fire was put out, Craft said she woke up that night thinking the building was on fire again because the smell of smoke was so strong in the air.

Mike Morris has attended the church for the past 6 years and said they would continue worshiping even if their sanctuary was closed off.

He said they just needed to figure out where to meet.

The decision was made to hold service in their fellowship hall, which Pastor Donald Lewert says showed the strength of the congregation.

"It really proves the old adage that the church is not the building, the church is the people," Lewert said.  "As long as we have the people here, we'll have the ministry that will continue in this community. As long as there has been a Bay, Arkansas, there has been a Bay Methodist Church."

Many church members said they were excited for the future of the church.

Brenda Nichols, who has been a member of the church all her life, said the fire gives them a new start to the church and its programs.

Lewert said they will continue to hold service in their fellowship hall as the sanctuary is cleaned.

The church started a building project for a new fellowship hall and will use it as a place to worship when the project is complete.

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