At 6:30 am on Tuesday February 19, 2010 we woke up to a call from James' secretary, Vanessa, telling him that our church was on fire. It felt like when you are dreaming but the dream seems so real and you can't seem to wake yourself up from it. Our church was on fire? What? Really? Really? Soon James was on the phone with Gary, our music minister who was telling him that the fire was through the roof of the offices and heading toward the sanctuary. He said whatever was in James' offices would probably be a total loss. It just kept getting more and more weird. I have always been an "ambulance chaser" so I immediately wanted to go and see it in flames. Instead we got up and started getting ready for the day and watched the news. We told the girls what was happening and Ella's first question was, "Where will we go to church on Sunday?" And Macie's response was, " We can go to Goo's church or Nonny's church." James took Ella to school and headed to the church. I got my kiddos there and then we headed up to the church to see what was left around 9:30. The roof had caved in on the office area and the sanctuary. There were firemen all around and water spraying...which was quite entertaining to a 2 and 3 year old.
I learned when I got there that the Episcopal church just next door had been there immediately with coffee, donuts and breakfast tacos for everyone needing nourishment. Blessing #1. Then a few of the staff were invited by the 1st Methodist Church to look at their brand new facility for their contemporary service. They offered it to us to use as long as we needed too. Blessing #2. I saw a van drive up and unload a lot of picture frames and wondered what they were. It turns out that firemen had gone in a pulled out a bunch of OLD pictures and artifacts from out a gallery that was a tribute to the past ministers and members of our church. WOW! What a sacrifice and not for a person! Blessing #3. This was just the beginning of many ways God was going show us he was still in control through this horrible tragic.
Before noon the fireman had to tear down a part of the sanctuary wall. Apparently there were embers under the floor that the firemen were unable to reach and there was a chance they could flare up. This was the only way to put them out. It gave us a glimpse into what the sanctuary looked like and the extent of the damage. There were many windows knocked out and beautiful architecture ruined. The building had just received a historical marker in the past year.
That evening we had a prayer service in our youth building...which was, and has been since, our only working building we have access to. We had probably close to 400 people in attendance. It was such a neat time to come together and grieve and pray and praise God. We had no idea that day what would be in store for us over the next days and weeks.