A pastor rallied congregants Sunday after his historic church building in Ranger, Texas, was destroyed by raging flames just days earlier.
“This building is gone,” Wade Berry, pastor of Second Baptist Church, told the crowd that assembled for an impromptu service outside the house of worship. “That’s something worth grieving. But it’s also a day to celebrate.”
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Wade’s inspiring message came as the 103-year-old church building was found to likely be a total loss. The third floor and roof caved in, and the building sustained severe damage from smoke and water.
Yet the congregation isn’t shaken, with members gathering to worship the Lord.
Wendy Rodgers, song leader at the church, had the idea for a special service on the lawn Sunday, and community members joined parishioners in attending. Other area churches reportedly also canceled services so members could show up in solidarity.
The church reportedly has eight to 12 worshippers on typical Sundays, but the lawn chair service attracted 100 people, KXAS-TV reported.
Before the fire, some people had reportedly encouraged the church to close due to low attendance. But despite those calls, Rodgers said the church persisted and was starting to grow.
Now, she said, the church wants to continue its mission.
“We had people who were telling us to shut our doors, and we said, ‘God’s not done with us,'” Rodgers told the Abilene Reporter-News. “We felt like He wanted us to keep going. And we did, and we were growing.”
Wade used the service to offer prayers to those who lost buildings and belongings due to the fire. He also offered hope to those suffering and facing uncertainty.
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“We are always more than the tragedies we face,” the pastor said. “There is beauty in ashes, hope in despair, and hope is evident, even in mourning.”
Wade said he didn’t want to “minimize anyone’s grief” but also wanted to acknowledge how “lucky” the congregation is to face the unknown together.
“Do we worship a Jesus who only matters when times are good?” he asked. “Or do we worship the Jesus who is always King of Kings and Lord of Lords?”
Rodgers, too, delivered inspiring messages to those gathered.
“You may have lost all of your things, but you haven’t lost everything, because you still got the people that love you,” she said, according to KXAS-TV. “We don’t need a building. We’re still at church. The church still stands. We’re still here.”
The church will hold a special meeting this Sunday to discuss its future.
A man has been arrested and accused of intentionally starting the fire, which destroyed several buildings in addition to the church.
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