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First Baptist Church, Arley, destroyed by Jan. 27 firecomment (0)

February 10, 2000

By Jennifer Goode

Fire destroyed the building complex of First Baptist Church, Arley, on Jan. 27.

Although investigators have ruled out arson, the fire’s cause is still under investigation. Pastor Ricky England said a final report is expected in the next week.

England said the driver of a bread delivery truck reported smoke coming from the church the morning of the blaze. Seven fire departments worked throughout the day to contain the fire.

England described the church body as “devastated, because it was such a loss,” noting the sentimental values in the church building, which served as a lighthouse to the community.”

The church met in the high school gymnasium Jan. 30 with an attendance of 338. Average church attendance is 350.

“Gods blessing us, and we’re going to move on,” England said. “We’re sticking together, and we’re working together.”

Trailers from the State Board of Missions arrived Feb. 2 to be used as Sunday School rooms and the church parsonage. England said the church plans to use the trailers for about a month before setting up a large shed as a worship center on land already purchased as a future building site.

As they prepare to move to the new site, the body of believers at First, Arley, have received help from area churches and businesses.

“Churches have been so generous,” England said.” People have been very good. Our area churches have been super.”

The church already has bought some new sound equipment and speakers. Businesses generously gave the church discounts, and churches have donated hymnals. One church donated a piano.

“I’ve come to learn to appreciate other churches in the convention who have stepped up to help us,” England said.

Although England described the morale of the church as “up,” he said members have had a hard time adjusting to being on the receiving end of things. As a missions-minded church, he said they are accustomed to being the giver.

The sanctuary was built in 1939, had been remodeled several times.

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