Pa. church burns, will rise again

April 05, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - An early morning fire Saturday gutted a small country church, forcing its congregation to hold services in a former theater until their church can be rebuilt.

The Rev. David M. Carroll, pastor of the Independent Baptist Church on U.S. 522 about two miles north of McConnellsburg, said the main part of his one-story brick church was destroyed in the 4:30 a.m. blaze. His study, other offices, a classroom and kitchen facilities in the basement sustained heavy water and smoke damage, he said.

Lt. Michael Lynch of the McConnellsburg Volunteer Fire Department, said the church was empty at the time. The state fire marshal's office is investigation the cause, he said. The alarm was turned in by a passerby, he said.

There were no injuries. Officials said U.S. 522 was closed while the fire was being fought.

Nine fire companies from Fulton, Franklin and Bedford counties responded, Lyunch said.


Carroll said there are about 100 active parishioners in the church, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in October. It meets Sunday and Wednesday evenings, he said. Services will be held today at a former Fulton County theater building, he said.

The church was built 28 years ago, he said. Some old photos of congregation members in earlier times were lost as was some office equipment, the church library and Carroll's personal library were damaged in the basement.

Carroll has served the church for 2 1/2 years.

He said the church has fire insurance, but he didn't know how much would be covered. The church will be rebuilt, he said.

Plans are still in the initial stages, Carroll said. One being discussed Saturday calls for integrating a new building with a 60-by 120-foot steel building existing on the property into one large building, he said.

Carroll said the congregation recently voted to spend money to convert the steel building into a family life center.

Anyone wishing to help the congregation in its hour of need can call Carroll at 717-485-5447.

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