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Alabama church building burns after fatal one-car crash

Riverside Baptist Church burns early Thursday morning after being hit by a car. The driver, who has not yet been identified, was killed. Facebook photo from Tim Gold

RIVERSIDE, Ala. – Riverside Baptist Church was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning (June 20) after it was struck by a car that apparently missed a sharp curve outside the church.

The driver, a male, was killed but has not yet been identified by officials.

The blaze left only the brick standing at Riverside Baptist. The night before, Pastor Ken Maddox had taught a lesson at Wednesday night Bible study called, “Where is Your Church?” in which he talked about how the church isn’t brick and mortar; it is the people.

The congregation plans to meet temporarily for worship at the storm shelter behind Riverside City Hall as it makes plans for the future.

“We are praying for the Riverside Church family as they deal with this sad situation,” said Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. “I have talked with Ken and a church member. The State Board of Missions will do everything we can to assist the church family during this critical time. We are grateful to the Alabama Baptist family for making this possible.”

Offering love and encouragement

Mark Wakefield, Alabama Baptist disaster relief strategist, said as he visited with the pastor and other church members at the site, they told him they were sad that their building was a total loss but were grateful to be able to gather again this Sunday just like they always have.

“While we were there, the grandparents of the young man driving the car also came up, so Ken was trying to spend some time with them and love on them,” he said.

Wakefield delivered a check to the church on behalf of Alabama Baptists and said he was thankful to get to check on Maddox and the rest of the congregation.

“There are not many things like standing in the dark and seeing those flames raging through everything; it’s a pretty tough feeling for folks,” he said. “I just wanted to let them know the rest of their Alabama Baptist family was praying for them.”

This article originally appeared in The Alabama Baptist.

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  • Grace Thornton/The Alabama Baptist