UPDATE | Congregation looking for temporary worship site after fire destroys church

Published: Jul. 29, 2019 at 12:47 AM EDT
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UPDATE 7/29/19 @ 5:45 p.m.

A church that has been standing in one community for almost 70 years was destroyed by fire.

The Florence Memorial United Methodist Church was built in the Dickson area of Wayne County in 1951.

The fire started at the church around 10:30 Sunday night, just hours after the Sunday evening service.

David Ward, a member of the church, says he had just gone to bed when he was alerted to the fire.

"It was close to 10:30," Ward said. "I thought I heard a knock on the door, but I wasn't sure. Then I heard it again. I jumped up and saw lights in the driveway. Then, I got a call from the neighbors that the church was indeed on fire. Then I started calling everybody to let them know."

Ward says he immediately went to the church. Pastor Greg Mullens was also there within minutes.

"We live a mile down the road so we were here almost immediately," Mullens said. "The smoke was just starting to come out of the roof. Devastating to the church itself. But the people are the church. This building can be rebuilt and replaced. Thankfully no one was hurt an we just give the glory to God. When one door closes, another door opens."

Church members say the building is a total loss. Members say the basement was renovated recently, but the basement was extensively damaged from the water used to put the fire out.

"It's just unreal," Ward said. "This is not something you think about. Our church, we have done so much work to it in the past five years to remodel and restore and get it fixed up. It's devastating. But it's just a building. Nobody was there and that was the wonderful thing. God has his own plan and we will just have to figure out what that is."

There are about 35 to 40 people who attend the church on a regular basis.

Pastor Mullens says he has a lot of family history in the church, which makes the loss even more difficult. He says his great-grandfather was the first pastor to ever preach a sermon at the church.

According to the pastor, a few things were saved from the entrance to the church. He is hoping they will be able to incorporate some of those items in the new building once they rebuild.

No one was inside the church when the fire started.

Investigators haven't determined what started the fire.

The pastor says they are going to be talking with the insurance company to look at possibly rebuilding.

In the meantime, he says the congregation will be looking for a temporary site to hold services.

UPDATE 7/29/19 @ 5:47 a.m.

State Route 152 has re-opened in Wayne County after fire destroyed a church in the Dickson area.

The fire started at Florence Memorial United Methodist Church between Lavalette and Wayne before 11:30 Sunday night.

The steeple and roof collapsed. No one was injured.

ORIGINAL STORY 7/29/19 @ 12:45 a.m.

A church is badly damaged after a fire in Wayne County.

Florence Memorial United Methodist Church in the Dickson area of Wayne County was reported to be on fire around 11:30 Sunday night, according to Wayne County Dispatch.

Our crew on the scene says the steeple of the church collapsed.

152 is closed at the railroad crossing in Dickson.

The Wayne Volunteer Fire Department, Lavalette Volunteer Fire Department, and the Ceredo Fire Department all responded.

Keep checking the WSAZ App for the latest information.