Jan. 5, 2010
“Restore us, O God; let your face shine…” (Psalm 80:3a).
SHILOH CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN IN WEST VIRGINIA LOSES BUILDING TO FIRE
Shiloh Church of the Brethren near Kasson, W. Va., lost its building to a fire on Jan. 3. Fire broke out during the Sunday morning worship service at the church, which is in a rural area of the Church of the Brethren’s West Marva District. The building was evacuated safely and no one was hurt.
Pastor Garry Clem described the Sunday morning events in a telephone interview. “It was a blistery cold, snowy, wintery day,” he reported. “About 30 people showed up and we had Sunday school.” When a few people began to complain of irritation and watery eyes, the group looked around the building and did not find anything unusual. After worship began, more people experienced eye irritation and the oil-fired furnace was shut down, while some windows were opened despite the cold.
It was when a puff of smoke was spotted coming up through a vent that they discovered fire had broken out in the wall of the furnace room.
The primary concern was the people’s safety, the pastor said. After everyone was out of the building, the next concern was to move cars away from the building. Six fire departments responded to the scene, according to a report from WBOY TV. The local fire chief said that the fire likely was electrical in nature.
The nearest fire department is some 15 miles away from the rural church, the pastor said. “The fire company did a wonderful job, but by the time they came it was just containment.”
The church is insured through the Mutual Aid Association, which already has been in touch with the pastor several times. The congregation has plans to form a building committee and an all-church meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening for members to share ideas for rebuilding the church. The church plans to hold worship next Sunday at another location.
“We have a hardy core of people, and we’re going to be okay,” the pastor said. But, he added, “we’re going to miss the old building.” Shiloh Church of the Brethren is a historic congregation and its church building was at least 165 years old, Clem said. The congregation may have been formed as early as 1833.
“God will restore,” one church member told the pastor, as he was personally contacting members after the fire. Since then he has shared her conviction with others in the congregation, and thinks the phrase may become their church motto.
The West Marva District office reports that the district is in conversation about the possibility of holding a collection for the church, with more details to come later in the process.
Online news reports about the fire are available: go to www.wvmetronews.com/index.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=34466 for a report from the West Virginia Metro News Network; go to www.wboy.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=72836&catid=128 for a news report and a link to a video report from WBOY TV.