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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Fairhope’s First Baptist Church loses sanctuary to firecomment (0)

November 6, 2003

By Michael McCormack


Flames engulfed the 700-seat sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Fairhope, Oct. 29, making it the third church in the Mobile Bay area (Baldwin and Mobile counties) to catch fire in two months.

First, Fairhope, Pastor Jerry Henry said the blaze began between 5 and 5:30 p.m. while Wednesday activities were taking place.

“Before it could spread to the education building, the firemen got there,” Henry said, noting they controlled the fire within 20 minutes of arrival. Everyone evacuated the church with no injuries.

“That’s the great thing about it,” he said. “We went and thanked God for delivering us.”

They also prayed with the firemen. Henry said nearby Fairhope United Methodist Church brought food for the firemen after the fire was extinguished.

Henry said First, Fairhope, members will meet Sunday for worship in the Fairhope Civic Center. The church will use the Civic Center throughout the rebuilding process. Henry said the sanctuary was a complete loss, except for a large Bible near the pulpit. With everything else around it charred and melted, the Bible remained almost unscathed. Henry said it symbolized God’s enduring Word.

“God’s Word goes on,” he said. “I look at my church and the experiences we’ve had. It [the sanctuary] represents a lot of folks that have given their heart and soul to First Baptist Church, Fairhope. God will take this tragedy and bring something good from it.”

Baldwin Assoc­iation Director of Missions Larry Patterson said churches in the area are likely to respond to the latest fire much like they did to the other two in the area. He said individual churches, along with the association and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, have assisted First Baptist Church, Foley, since a fire destroyed that church’s Family Life Center.

Both Henry and Patterson said they believe the recent church fires are unrelated and accidental.

Reports found both the First Baptist Church, Citronelle, and the First, Foley, fires to have been caused by electrical shorts. The report on the latest fire had not been released at press time.

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