'God's Bigger Than A Fire,' Says Pastor Of Destroyed Nowata Church

Friday, April 13th 2018, 12:54 pm
By: Emory Bryan

One of the oldest church buildings in Nowata is nothing but a pile of ashes and debris after a massive fire Friday.

The first call about the fire at the church, located at 117 South Willow, came in around 11:00 a.m.

The pastor of Trinity Church was in the building, smelled smoke, and called for help but the fire was in the attic, and once this wind caught it, there was no stopping it.

All Pastor Connie Wilson could do was watch and pray for firefighters as the church she's always attended burned to the ground.

Her Grandfather was the pastor. Then her husband. When he died, the work fell to her, and the members who built the church, so they could be debt free.

“We just all did it. And so, as I watch it burn, I think, Oh, there goes the part that Billie Jean put up. There goes the part that my Grandpa put up. There goes the part my Dad did,” said Wilson. 

Firefighters worked from all sides. They called in help from surrounding towns but it was too late.

“We started making an interior attack and exterior and we just couldn't get it contained,” said Emergency Manager David Hewitt. 

Wilson saved what she could like the clock her grandmother left the church, a few pictures, and a scrapbook of the weddings, the church dinners, the Easter egg hunts; memories of the congregation.

“So, we grabbed the things that were most precious,” Wilson said. 

No one was hurt in the fire that consumed the building, the fire that church member Hoyt Wesson said he's long been dreading.

“I've seen a lot of things in 80 years and that's something I've always worried about. There's so much heavy lumber up in the top of it,” said Wesson. 

Firefighters called for a track hoe to tear off the roof to get the fire. 

Pastor Wilson said the fire started in some wiring for the sound system.

They'll move to a temporary building for church this Sunday and she said they'll rebuild too.

No one was hurt. Members of the congregation said the church had stood on the property since 1933.

Pastor Connie Wilson said the church had just filled its food bank as it prepared for a donation event next week. She said she managed to grab some items out of the church before the fire destroyed them. 

The Nowata Police Department shut down Cherokee at Willow due to the fire. It was re-opened around 3 p.m.

According to the police department, a nearby Family Dollar was also evacuated and closed due to smoke.