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Warrior Baptists help Nazarene church after firecomment (0)

July 13, 2006

By Erica Harms

When Malcolm Calvert, pastor of Zola Baptist Church, Warrior, in Friendship Baptist Association, learned about what had happened to a church facility 150 yards across the interstate from his own church, he and his congregation took action.

It was 1:30 a.m. March 25 when Phillip Sessions, pastor of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Hayden, got a phone call informing him that his church was on fire.

When he arrived on the scene, the entire facility was engulfed in flames. Nothing inside survived the fire. According to police, arson was to blame.

The next morning, Sessions and the Faith congregation gathered at a high school gymnasium in Warrior to worship together.

“It was a sad day but we had church,” Sessions said.

Since the fire destroyed the building, Zola Baptist has offered its facility to Faith Church. The two congregations share the building on both Sundays and Wednesdays, alternating worship service times and locations within the church.

“We’re different denominations but both congregations have encouraged one another,” Calvert said.

“They invite us and we invite them. There are some differences but we’re all just fellowshipping together.”

Sessions, who had only been pastor for six months when the fire struck, said Faith’s membership has actually grown since the fire, likely due to the immense news coverage of the tragedy.

“Even though the fire destroyed everything, our people are not discouraged,” he said. “By faith, they are looking forward to the future with the assurance that God will be with us as we rebuild.”

Sessions anticipates that it will be another year before his church has a permanent building of its own, but he has been overwhelmed by the generosity of churches that have volunteered to help his congregation through these months of waiting.

“We want to thank all of those churches who have encouraged us and helped us with resources,” Sessions said.
“They have been gracious and we couldn’t have made it without them.”

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