Pastor holds services outside burned church

August 9, 2009 4:48:41 PM PDT
A church burns, fire and smoke shooting out of the building just hours before Sunday services. Now, the congregation south of downtown Houston is sticking together to make it through the tough times. The flames ripped through Macedonia Worship Center on Edgar and Brinkley around 10:30pm Saturday.

The pastor says firefighters told him this started with a spark in the church's air conditioner. It ended with this fifty-year-old church left barely standing. But even as devastating a fire as this one was, it didn't stop Sunday worship.

You wouldn't know by looking at Pastor Walter Pope, but he's hurting. This Sunday, like most, he was enthusiastically leading the morning service at the Macedonia Worship Center.

But this Sunday, he was doing it from the parking lot less than 100 feet from the ashes of his church.

"Is it tough to look at?" we asked.

He responded, "Yeah."

His 16-year-old son, Isaiah, can see what others miss

"I can see it in his eyes. I can tell when he's hurting," said Isaiah.

Less than 12 hours earlier, firefighters found his church with flames flickering from the roof. But they say low water pressure hindered efforts to fight the fire.

"They couldn't actually put enough water on that fire, so they backed out and the whole time, the fire was intensifying," said HFD Deputy Chief Herman Gonzales.

A fire department spokesperson blames old water mains for the low water pressure, common in this community on Houston's south side.

By the time, firefighters got a pump to boost that pressure, it was too late to save the building. But Pastor Pope says a building is all they have lost today.

"Just because the building's messed up, that's not the church. We the church. This is just the edifice," said Pastor Pope. "It's gonna be alright. It's gonna be alright. I'm trying not to get emotional."

A fire chief told Eyewitness News it would take extensive work to upgrade the water mains here to handle more pressure. Parishioners here, though, might argue it'd be a worthy project

After Hurricane Ike, the Macedonia Worship Center served as a distribution center for food and water. Now that its parishioners are the ones in need, two churches have stepped up to offer Pastor Pope their facilities for Sunday service.

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