Church to rebuild after fire ruled an accident

January 3, 2010 9:00:20 PM PST
There are new developments surrounding a southwest Houston church that burned down on New Year's Day. Investigators say it was all started by a candle at the church altar. On Sunday the congregation showed that the fire is not shaking their faith by finding a way to worship together. The start of the new year brought tragedy to the Celestial Church of Christ, but at their Sunday service there was no sign of sorrow.

"We are a family. We have each other," said church member Victoria Calabi.

A fire destroyed their sanctuary, leaving just a few items intact and leaving the congregation which has been here since 1995 with no place to worship. Two days later, a northside restaurant became their temporary church.

"There is nothing that God cannot do. When we think that everything is over, God our almighty father will appoint someone to lead us to our new building," said Pastor Friday Thomas of the Celestial Church of Christ.

Members are rejoicing by singing songs of thanksgiving and praise for their faith and for each other. This is the church, they say, the people and not a building.

"The lord is guiding us through the kind of difficulties. We strongly believe in the lord. With God anything is possible," said a church member.

The Nigerian church ministers to about 300 people who say this fire is not a setback, but a new beginning.

"We are going to rebuild and it is going to be better than what it was before," said Pastor Thomas.

Unaffected by what they've lost, members are instead focused on what they have.

"We still have our life, we have our children, nobody died even though there was damage to our building. There was no damage to our life, it is just a building and it can be built again. That's why we are happy," said Calabi.

The church says it does have insurance which will help in the rebuilding process, but the pastor says it will also need to raise money through donations to restore the sanctuary.