Disney, Oklahoma Church Congregation Counting Their Blessings

Sunday, October 29th 2006, 5:41 pm
By: News On 6

A week after fire destroyed a Green Country church, the congregation is committed to rebuild. The First Baptist Church in Disney burned to the ground last Sunday. News on 6 reporter Chris Wright explains why church members say the fire was a blessing in disguise.

Sitting only a few feet from First Baptist is the nearly-completed new First Baptist Church, which remarkably, was barely damaged in the fire.

Services at the First Baptist Church ended right before noon last Sunday, just like they always do. But after everyone emptied out of the building, a member of the congregation noticed something out of the ordinary.

Music director Gary Timmons: "Shortly after that, five or ten minutes after that, one of the neighbors walked outside and noticed smoke coming out of the roof."

First Baptist, which was built more than 80 years ago, burned quickly.

Parishioner Gene Bean: "It was so hot, so much smoke I couldn't even see the fireman. He was two feet away from me. I couldn't even tell who I was working with."

It became apparent that the old church could not be saved. So firefighters turned their efforts towards preventing the fire from spreading to the new First Baptist Church, which has been under construction for the past few years.

And First Baptist Church, which was completely destroyed, sits only 6 feet from the new First Baptist Church being built, and remarkably, this one was barely damaged.

Gene Bean: "It's real amazing. I was so surprised. Like I said me and the firemen were down here fighting it. I figured the building would have burned."

But the building did not burn, and members of the congregation say that is nothing short of a miracle. They say they were in no particular rush to finish the church, but now they hope to have it done by January 1st. Still, Disney residents admit it will be difficult to replace First Baptist, whose 80 year history is intertwined with the town.

Gary Timmons: "Well of course there's a lot of memories here. A lot of people have found God here, lot of weddings, lot of funerals."

Congregation members are looking for volunteers to help them finish the construction of the new First Baptist Church.

If anyone is interested, you can call the church at 918-435-4526.