Itâ€™s been eight months since a bolt of lightening struck Salem Baptist Church and caused its sanctuary to go up in flames.
Today, the inside of the church is still blackened. Light streams in through a hole where a large, stained-glass window used to loom over the entrance. Yellow caution tape hangs loosely across the aisle.
Church members were gathered there that Sunday in August for an ordination service.
They saw the lightening strike and spark a blaze inside the sound room that quickly spread to the sanctuary. Within minutes it was engulfed in flames.
â€œIt was devastating to us because most of us were here that day,â€ said Penny Wilson, the churchâ€™s administrative assistant. â€œIt was just so sad to see it on fire. It was like losing a member of the family.â€
But now the church family and community are coming together to help raise funds to rebuild the sanctuary.
A concert sponsored by the South Fork Baptist Association will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Boger City Baptist Church. It will feature choirs, quartets, pianists and other groups from churches in the South Fork Association.
There is no admission fee, but a love offering will be taken. All proceeds will go to the Salem Baptist Church Building Fund. Refreshments will be served.
Wilson said the help Salem Baptist has received from other churches has been humbling.
â€œIt makes me want to cry,â€ she said. â€œEverybody in the community has been real supportive.â€
Church leaders arenâ€™t yet sure how much it will cost to rebuild, but they know itâ€™s going to be more than they have. A recent settlement with the insurance company didnâ€™t yield near as much money as members had hoped, Wilson said.
For now, church services are being held in the fellowship hall. All Sunday school classes are still going on like normal.
â€œWeâ€™re still trying to do everything we did before, we just do it in a smaller space,â€ Wilson said. â€œWeâ€™re a little cramped, but weâ€™ve grown closer because of it.â€
She encourages everyone to come out to the concert to learn more about Salem Baptist or to just enjoy the music. And she stresses how thankful church members are to the community for helping them through such a difficult time.â€œItâ€™s been really heartwarming to see the response,â€ she said. â€œNot only do we want to be back, but the community wants to see us back.â€ by Alice Smith