CHUCKEY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Union Chapel Free Will Baptist Church was destroyed by fire Tuesday, but that didn’t stop members of the congregation from gathering Wednesday evening.
Church members gathered at the fellowship hall next to the destroyed church building nearly 24 hours after the fire claimed their church.
“That is just a building and we’ve got memories in that building, but that’s okay,” said lifelong church member Brenda Gilbert. “We are the church. The people are the church, and with the Lord and with lots of prayers, and faithfulness, we will carry on.”
14 year-old Sarah Mathis and 13 year-old Thomas Darnell shared that sentiment as well.
“I saw the smoke coming up when I was down the road, and I didn’t know what it was at first, and then, so we came down here to check it out and I felt very sorrowful,” Mathis said. “But I knew – I didn’t cry over it because, I knew that we were a church. The building had nothing to do with that.”
“I knew that even though we had a building called the church we still were a family, as a church together even though we didn’t have a building, and I knew that we could rebuild after that, even though we didn’t have the building,” Darnell said.
Pastor Lynn Neas said it’s going to take time, but the church will be rebuilt.
“We just have to work through it as a congregation,” Neas said. “I don’t know what the day will bring, I am, we’re totally devastated, what happened, but God don’t make no mistakes.”
According to the pastor, investigators believe the cause of Tuesday’s fire was a fault in the electrical wiring somewhere near the front of the church.
Neas said the community has rallied around the church and many have sent donations.