Sedley church burns

Published 7:27 am Saturday, July 18, 2009

SEDLEY—A lightning strike was the likely cause of a fire that destroyed St. Paul Holiness Church on Friday afternoon.

“It takes so many memories away,” said Randolph Warren, the church’s pastor, as he watched the building burn from across the street. “It’s a whole lot of history in that building.”

According to one of the church’s deacons, the structure on Sycamore Avenue was built in 1976; however, the church’s congregation dates back to the early 1900s.

“It’s one of the oldest churches in this area,” Warren said.

He said the church expanded a couple of years ago and added a fellowship hall and offices.

“It’s so hurtful because we put so much time and effort in it,” he said.

At the time the fire started, severe storms were pushing through the area, bringing torrential rains, high winds and dangerous lightning. Warren said that conversations with a firefighter and a church member who lives nearby ended with the same conclusion: “They think it was lightning.”

As word of the blaze got out, neighbors and church members gathered along Sycamore Avenue to watch the firefighters battle the blaze. Erselle Ricks isn’t a member of the church, but she said its loss is still a “tragedy.”

“It’s a very sad situation for the community,” she said. “But we are blessed in the name of Jesus.”

Warren said that St. Paul’s congregation would probably worship with a sister church on Sunday morning. He said the next step will be finding a building to rent — but only temporarily.

“We plan on rebuilding,” said the pastor.