Fire destroys northeast Houston church

May 12, 2010 3:37:44 PM PDT
A congregation in the Fifth Ward will have to rebuild. An early morning fire destroyed their historic church, but they say their faith is keeping them strong. Church members and the leadership on the First New Mount Calvary Baptist Church on Gregg are trying to figure out what to do next, after their church burned early Wednesday morning. The Houston Fire Department arson division is investigating, but so far, there's no word on what may have started the flames.

Members of First New Mount Calvary Baptist Church were trying to save what they could from the flames long before the sun came up as Houston firefighters turned their hoses on the church, to put out the fire. It started in the back of the fellowship hall, and a former pastor says the fire was a blow to the Fifth Ward neighborhood.

Former Pastor Clifton Roberson said, "This is a loss not just for the members, but for the community."

Charred furniture and a half-melted drum set stood out in the parking lot. Ruth Hollis, 92, came out to survey the damage to the church she's been a part of since 1948.

She said, "Honey, I did alright until I walked in there this morning. See, I just couldn't help but to cry. I couldn't help it."

The associate pastor, too, had a hard time taking in the soot and water at the church where he got married in 1994.

"Wow. It was hard to believe, just to see it," said Associate Pastor Earl Jackson.

Jackson says there had been a lot of infighting in the church lately. But he's hopeful the fire will bring the congregation back together.

"Rest assured, First New Mount Calvary Baptist Church is not dead," Jackson promised. "We are alive."

Church members will be meeting about how to move forward until the building can be rebuilt.


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