MILLIGAN — Two months ago, Pastor Charles Smith stood and watched as firefighters battled a blaze at First Baptist Church of Milligan.
Smith had left the church about 30 minutes earlier to beat an incoming storm. When he arrived home, Smith received a call that the church was on fire.
Fire marshals told Smith that while lightning was the probable cause of the fire, they couldn’t say it conclusively.
“For a lot of people it’s heartbreaking, but the church isn’t the building,” Smith said. “The church is the people.”
Most of the building and it contents were destroyed. The only things salvageable were a few file cabinets, some book cases and a few books from Smith’s office, and an old communion table.
For the past two months the church has been operating out of the old Baker United Methodist Church building. The church has gotten back to its normal worship schedule, but members are still reeling from the devastation.
“They’re doing as well as can be expected,” Smith said. “They are mourning the former building, but not a whole lot has changed. We’re still trying to be the church we were before the fire happened.”
Two weeks after the fire, the remnants of the church were demolished. Smith said the plan is to rebuild on the same lot.
The church has formed a rebuild committee to look at what it will take to rebuild, but there are no finalized plans and no timeline for when it will be completed. Smith said if he had to guess, it would be at least a year before a new building is erected.
While they wait for a new church building, the congregation will continue to meet at the former Baker United Methodist.
“There’s a reason for everything and there’s a reason God let this happen,” Smith said. “I can’t read God’s mind on why he allowed it to happen, but it wasn’t a surprise to him. We just have to keep trying to reach out with the Gospel to the people in the Baker and Milligan area.”
The Lion’s Club will hold an all-you-can-eat breakfast fundraiser for the church at the Baker Recreatio Center on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 7 to 10 a.m. Tickets are $6. All of the proceeds will go toward the rebuild.