MILLIGAN — First Baptist Church of Milligan leadership is reeling after the church caught on fire late Tuesday afternoon.

Pastor Charles Smith left the church, located on Old River Road, about 3 p.m. on Tuesday prior to a severe thunderstorm rolling through the area. Smith received a call right after he arrived home informing him that the church was on fire.

“I’m 99 percent sure the church is completely destroyed,” Smith said on Wednesday morning. “I know for sure that the sanctuary is completely destroyed.”

Smith said the church had already made plans for services on Wednesday night and Sunday morning.

“Tonight (Wednesday) we are having our prayer meeting at one of our church member’s homes here in Milligan,” Smith said. “First Baptist Church of Baker has generously allowed us to use their fellowship hall for services on Sunday morning at 11 a.m.”

According to Smith, plans for services after Sunday morning would be discussed at a later time.

Smith said fire marshals told him they would not be able to make a final ruling on the cause of the fire until Wednesday afternoon.

“It doesn’t look like suspicious activity was involved,” Smith said. “The fire marshal believes it was lightning.”

While the outer walls of the church are still standing, the roof and everything inside of the church burned in the fire. Smith said church leadership would have to have the wall inspected, but feels confident in saying it would have to be torn down.

“We will have to have a building inspector come out and check the integrity of the wall,” Smith said. “I’m pretty sure the integrity of it has been compromised.”

The church has been around since 1864 with a new sanctuary being built in 1953.

According to Smith, no final decision has been made on where the church will rebuild, but he believes it will be rebuilt on the same site.