Canaan Baptist Church’s life began in a school gym.
“That’s actually why we started going there,” said member Karen Stogsdill.
“We were driving past Shopville School and saw all these cars there.”
The dedicated members of the church rejoiced when they were able to move into a building built just for their needs, located on Pine Hill Road, or Ky. 1317, about seven miles northeast of Somerset.
And that’s what made it that much harder to bear when the structure was
destroyed by a fire Thursday morning, leaving little but blackened debris.
“I’m just speechless,” Stogsdill said on Thursday, just a few hours after the blaze occurred. “It’s totally unexpected and we were there last night (Wednesday) and had a good service and a good time.”
Firefighters with the Dabney Volunteer Fire Department received a call of a fire at the church at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. A passerby had reported the blaze, and by the time they arrived on the scene – just a few minutes later – the structure’s south end was completely engulfed in flames.
Science Hill Volunteer Fire Department, Shopville Volunteer fire Department and Somerset Fire Department assisted, and they stayed on the scene for several hours while containing the blaze.
The fire burned so hot that it claimed the church van, parked to the south side of the building, and it caused the building’s roof to collapse.
The roof collapse caused the blaze to push outward at one point, blowing through the double doors on the building’s north side and straight at firefighters.
Luckily, no one was injured, but firefighters did not enter the building after that due to the danger.
“You can rebuild a church, but you can’t rebuild a body,” said Rick Haynes, assistant chief for Dabney fire Department.
And that’s exactly what the Canaan Baptist Church family intends to do – rebuild.
“I know God will lead us where we need to go together,” said member Virginia Abrams.
As of Friday, Pastor Brian Plants was busy tracking down a temporary worship location. Services will be held today at the Denham Street Fellowship Hall.
“God has a plan for all of this, and everything happens for a reason,” Stogsdill said confidently.
And the church members are banding together as they seek out a temporary home – and eventually work toward rebuilding.
“Our church means the world to us,” Abrams said. “Our children … grew up there.”
The Kentucky Fire Marshal’s Office and the Kentucky State Police Arson Investigation Team are looking into what may have caused the fire, and they don’t believe it was a suspicious blaze.
“They’re looking at the wiring, the Christmas lights there, the regular lights,” said Haynes.
The church sign that greets visitors, located just next to Pine Hill Road, says “With Jesus, hope,” and that can’t better describe the church members’ faith – what is guiding them through a devastating event.
“God is in control, and I’m sure He had a purpose in this,” Stogsdill said.
And while they search for a new church home, the already close Canaan Baptist Church family is growing even closer.
“There’s a lot of good people there,” said Stogsdill, who noted there were around 50 attendees at the rural church’s service the Sunday before the fire.
And Abrams only had one request on behalf of the church and its members.
“Please keep praying for us,” Abrams said.