BELTON, S.C. (BP)–Approximately 40 people, including 15 children, were worshipping at Cedar Grove Baptist Church on July 4 when the building was hit by a double lightning strike that ignited a fast-moving fire.
“We heard the lighting pop and saw it flicker out of the electric socket,” church member Jackie Garrett told the Anderson Independent-Mail.
Fire crews from all over the county responded but were unable to save the 127-year-old building. No one in the church was injured.
“It’s kind of like a roller coaster,” said Dan Parton as he stood in the cemetery watching his church burn from afar. “It hurts to see this going up in flames, but the up part is, God is still in control He takes the bad and turns it into good.”
All was lost in the blaze, including $100,000 worth of new stained glass windows. The education/office wing was built in the 1950’s and the sanctuary was rebuilt in 1964. Cedar Grove was about to start a major renovation in the basement.
“It’s been a part of me all my life,” said Velma Rice, former church secretary and Sunday school teacher. “My parents are buried in this cemetery.”
To commemorate its 125th anniversary in October 1998, the church invested in a fireproof safe to protect its historical documents. “I’m hoping and praying they won’t be burnt,” Rice said.
Parton said the building is insured and a new church will be built.