Saralandís Celeste Road Baptist suffers total loss from electrical firecomment (0)
October 31, 2013
By Grace Thornton
Celeste Road Baptist Church, Saraland, is in the saving business, but by the time church members and firefighters got to the building Oct. 20, there was almost nothing left to save.
The sanctuary, educational space and office space were all consumed by an electrical fire. The books pulled out of the rubble were waterlogged and destroyed.
But the firefighters wanted to save something, Pastor Eddie Holmes said, so after the roof caved in, they pulled the white steeple out of the rubble and brought it out to the parking lot.
“They stood it up out front, and it’s been up ever since,” Holmes said.
The church also displayed a sign that says, “The building is gone, the church still stands.”
Church members gathered in the parking lot late that Sunday afternoon to watch as flames engulfed the building. At press time, they were planning on gathering Oct. 27 for Sunday services in that same parking lot in chairs provided by a neighbor church, Holmes said.
And a mobile chapel provided by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) could potentially be ready for use on the property by the following week, he said.
“We’ve had just about every church in the area offer for us to meet with them in their buildings as well,” Holmes said.
At first, Celeste Road Baptist members were in shock, but the encouragement of others has given them a big boost, he said.
Within 45 minutes of getting the call that the church was on fire, Mobile Baptist Association disaster relief personnel were onsite at Celeste Road.
About 40 church members and friends were gathered in the parking lot as the church burned, and they were “encouraged by the power of cooperation,” said Thomas Wright, executive director of missions for Mobile Association, who prayed with them and told them that Alabama Baptists were standing with them.
Representatives of the SBOM have also reached out with the mobile chapel and other resources to help the church get back on its feet, Holmes said.
“We’ve had a bunch of calls from people who want to help us rebuild, but we haven’t talked to anyone about that yet,” he said, adding that the church was waiting to hear back on its insurance claim before making any plans for its new building.
The old building was deemed a total loss, he said.
“We’re trying to get a vision of what to do. Hopefully in a short time we’ll start demolition,” Holmes said.
“It’s been a terrible time,” he said, “but a good time too.”
In the midst of devastation, the church has been encouraged by words, prayer and an outpouring of help.
“It’s been humbling,” Holmes said.