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Church rises from the ashes

More than a month after a fire destroyed the building that had housed the congregation since 1890, the members of the First Baptist Church of Faunsdale are moving forward.

“We’re kind of excited about what God is doing. People are giving to the cause,” the Rev. Curtis Witherspoon said of the mood surrounding the church. “We’re trying to come together of one accord.”

The historic building was lost to an early morning blaze on Feb. 9. Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the inferno.

“Unfortunately the fire came and destroyed everything,” Witherspoon said. “But it did not destroy the church.”

On the morning of the fire, several church members gathered at the site of the still-smoldering rubble.

Distraught and in awe, the group joined together to sing the hymn “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks.” Witherspoon said that faith and reliance upon one another has remained at the forefront of the congregation’s rebuilding efforts.

“We are just trying to wrap our arms around one another and encourage one another,” Witherspoon said.

“We’re going to work through this. We’ve just got to let some time get between us and the situation,” Claude Lewis, a deacon of the congregation, said.

Part of working through the situation has come in taking steps toward reestablishing a routine.

“Right now we’re meeting in Uniontown at the City Hall auditiorium,” Lewis said.

“We had to replace a few items we lost in the fire like songbooks and Bibles and communion trays. It’s hard to have meetings for auxiliaries and choirs and things like that. It’s not quite normal yet, but we are getting into the swing of things.”

“The congregation right now is in good spirits.

“It is trying times right now, especially in light of the economy,” Witherspoon said. “We believe and we know that God is able.

“We know that we will rebuild in maybe a year, maybe two.

“We have goals we are going to try to meet this year, Lord willing.”

According to Lewis, the congregation has its sights set on the establishment of a new building, but the actual construction remains a considerable amount of time away.

“The actual rebuilding is going to be down the road,” Lewis said. “But we had a meeting Sunday about that.

“Right now we’re in the process of getting some plans and looking at some proposals.

“We really haven’t gotten everything together yet.

“We’re going to have to step up to the plate with our giving and fundraising efforts. But we’re being blessed. We really are.”