Okay Congregation Counts Blessings After Fire Destroys Historic Church

Sunday, August 25th 2013, 10:09 pm
By: News On 6

A Green Country congregation held services today just feet from the burned-out remains of its building.

United Methodist in Okay is moving forward after a devastating fire last week.

Just a few yards from a crime scene full of tragedy, songs and sermons of praise echoed.

"I've discovered that Okay UMC is better than just OK; we are blessed," pastor Stephanie Crogan said.

It was a time to unite under the sky and soak up the hope of the heavens.

"I love it being outside, being able to hear nature," Shane Coleman said.

Members of United Methodist weren't alone for the unconventional Sunday service.

"People of all areas [came] here today, which is awesome," Christy Boswell of the Muskogee Assembly of God said.

Dozens of others from surrounding churches were there to lift up their fellow Oklahomans.

"We would all help each other in a crisis or event, especially since this church burned," Boswell said.

Boswell, like so many, says her heart sank when she learned that the nearly century-old church went up in flames, possibly at the hands of an arsonist.

The fire is being investigated as a hate crime. Members believe it is linked to two acts of vandalism, one that happened a month ago when the church was defaced with graffiti, and one that happened a week ago when someone came through and broke out the stain glass windows."

"If anything, it strengthened their faith and made them rely on God a little more," Crogan said.

Crogan said they've also learned to rely on people, like those who have donated food, offered to help to rebuild and worship alongside them.

"It was the children of God worshiping here together," she said. "If we show that it's OK, if we show that we rely on God, then it's OK for the community to rely on God."

If you know anything that could help, you're asked to call the Wagoner County Sheriff's Office.

The investigation continues, and church members hope that information will be out soon. In the meantime, they'll turn to God.

"Bad things happen but you can't let it get you down, you have to keep fighting for what you believe in and keep moving on," Coleman said.