‘It’s a blessing’

Published 10:40 am Saturday, August 29, 2009

SEDLEY—A little more than a month ago, life was turned upside down for members of St. Paul Holiness Church.

The building that the congregation worshipped in for more than 30 years suddenly went up in flames after being struck by lighting during a severe thunderstorm.

On the day of the fire, Randolph Warren, the church’s pastor, said that he didn’t know where the 60-member congregation would worship.

“That was our concern, finding a place of worship,” he said. However, thanks to Joe Vaughn, who offered the use of his nearby vacant church, finding a building to rent wasn’t an issue.

Vaughn’s son came out to the scene of the fire and offered to rent the building to the church.

“We never missed a service,” said Warren, a lifelong member of the church who’s been the pastor for about five years. “God planned it; everything was already in place.”

The formerly vacant church on Maple Avenue in Sedley near Rogers Memorial Park has been St. Paul’s temporary home since the fire. Members have done some touch-up work on the building to bring it up to par, but Warren is just thankful to have a building to use.

“It’s an old building, but it will suffice us until we get back on our feet,” he said.

Warren said other churches and individuals in the area have been “very supportive” of the church and its members since the fire.

He said 20 to 25 churches and individuals have donated items like tables, chairs, air conditioners and even a piano. Another church loaned them offering plates and Gideons International donated Bibles.

“Support has been great,” he said.

Warren said that the church’s members have remained upbeat and are looking forward to the construction of their new church home. He said the church is even growing.

“Nobody seems to be discouraged,” Warren said. “In the midst of it all, God is yet blessing us.”

The burned church building on Sycamore Avenue was demolished the week following the fire. Members plan to rebuild on the same lot.

The rebuilding process is only in its beginning stages, according to Warren, but he is confident that construction of the new church will start within six months.

“I would say we’d see a preliminary plan in maybe a month’s time,” said Philip Wrisley, a minister at the church who is also serving as the contractor for the rebuilding process.

Warren is looking toward the future with optimism. He is looking forward to having a better church building and building an even larger membership.

“Like we said in the beginning, we believe good is going to come out of this,” he said. “It’s amazing how it worked out for us.”

“It’s a blessing,” added Wrisley.