Church holds first service after tragic fire

By Arielle Clay

JASPER, AL (WBRC) - Just days after their sanctuary went up in flames, Philadelphia Baptist Church's congregation met for service in Jasper.

"I'm excited about it cause how I see it we're closer together. We're not as far apart. We're going to have a full house this morning," Pastor Paul Mason said.

The congregation will now be worshipping in the church's old sanctuary built in 1948. "Even though it's going to be cramped and smaller we can deal with that," one member said.

Lightning struck one of the church's air conditioning units Wednesday night, starting the fire where some of the congregation was rehearsing for a play.

Mason estimates the damage could cost $100,000 but he says things could be worse though if not for the people who were inside. "If no one had been in the building it probably would have burned to the ground," Mason said.

"We're just going to look at it positive," church member Robin McClendon said.

The same day the church burned, so did part of McClendon's home. "My daughter was crying and she had caught our kitchen on fire accidentally," McClendon said.

Like her pastor, McClendon is not going to let it get her down. "I think our home and even the church here is going to come out without the smell of smoke on us and it'll all be ok," she said.

Mason says they will have engineers come to the church Wednesday to see if the entire roof needs to be replaced.

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