Spalding County Church burns, congregants blame lightning

7:49 PM, Dec 26, 2012   |    comments
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  • The church is a total loss after the fire.
  • Members of New Salem Baptist look at the damage.

GRIFFIN, Ga. -- "My Sunday School room is gone. It's ashes now for sure," Mary Murphy said. 

Just one day after Christmas, her church of more than 70 years burned to the ground. There is no official word but most of the church congregants believe lightning to be the cause. 

New Salem Baptist Church was founded in 1866 and has been in its current location since the 1950's.  It's the kind of church where members have married, raised kids, and buried loved ones for generations, counting on one another to help them pull through the tough times. 

Now they'll need each other more than ever. It was a total loss.  Everything, gone for good.

"I could never picture this church looking like this. My Grandmother just passed away this passed August. It's just been a really hard time," church member Breanna Chaney said.  "It's always been a big foundation, and a great place full of family and friends." 

Pastor Mike Barnes vows that the church will rebuild.  He says a church is about people and not just a building.  But still, he's struggling to explain it to himself and everyone else. 

"Seeing the people hurt and lives radically changed," he said was the hardest part. "They're unsure of the future and when one part of the body of Christ hurts they all hurt."

For now, the church will meet in their undamaged fellowship hall across the street.  Deacon Robert Roper who raised two boys at the church knows just how hard the road ahead is, but he also knows just how they'll pull through. 

"God builds his church with people, and it's the people that matter," Roper said. "And we still have the people and we'll come back and rebuild."

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