Wynona Church Meets For First Time After Building Was Torched

Sunday, December 1st 2013, 8:59 pm

Members of Wynona's Assembly of God Church got an close-up view of the damage done to their building in a Saturday fire, which is being considered suspicious by officials.

The group gathered to worship on Sunday, providing support for each other and praising God through the storm.

The fire is being blamed on a thief who broke in to the building. The fire was discovered Saturday morning, and once it was out, a few items were noticed missing.

You can't really tell it from the outside, but on the inside of the building, every corner is damaged by smoke or fire. Firefighters told the church the only reason the whole thing didn't burn is that the fire couldn't get enough oxygen.

Inside, what's left of the sanctuary is covered with heavy soot, and a lot of what didn't burn just melted.

11/30/2013 Related Story: Wynona Church Burglarized, Set On Fire, Minister Says

The church members took a look around Sunday and couldn't believe that a smoldering fire could do so much damage.

"It looks pretty devastating," parishioner Vickie Cox said. "It doesn't look like it did before with the children here, the people here and all the activities and everything."

The church gymnasium next door wasn't damaged, and that's where the congregation will meet for now.

The pastor is optimistic for his church and forgiving of the person who set it on fire.

"We'll pray for them. They need help," pastor David Downing said.

The church was built in phases, with the newest section added eight years ago.

The pastor doesn't know yet it any part of it can be salvaged with this much damage.

"I just couldn't understand it really; it makes me sick to see it," Ruth Downing said.

No one understands why someone would break in only to steal a guitar and amplifier, then burn the church on the way out.

And no one knows how the pastor's Bible, just a few yards from the worst damage, was scorched on the outside, yet almost undamaged on the inside.

"It just blew my mind, you just turn one or two pages, and the Word of God, it's there," David Downing said.

While the investigation continues into the cause, the church is making plans to rebuild. They had insurance and say they'll rebuild, better than it was before.