DANVILLE, Va. (WSET) — Members of Loyal Baptist Church are praying for a miracle after a devastating fire on Friday. The church's motto is "Praising God Despite of", and despite the fire, they are determined to bring life back to the historic building.
Fire officials say the fire started around 3:30 on Friday on Holbrook St. They say it started on the second-floor balcony and quickly spread to the attic.
According to the fire marshal, faulty electrical wiring was the cause of the fire. Fire crews dumped more than 2,000 gallons of water to tamp the fire, but that left a large amount of water damage on the carpet, walls, and pews.
This comes as Loyal Baptist Church prepares to celebrate 158 years in October. Their current building was built in 1924. It is one of the oldest African-American churches in Danville.
As they begin the long process of rebuilding, pastor Andre Austin is motivating the congregation to keep the faith.
"God didn't bring us this far to leave us. I encourage them that the same God that established this organization is the same God that will see us through the renovation, going to see us through the anxiety, the depression, and all the emotions that come when you lose anything. God is going to see us through and carry us through the next phase of Loyal Baptist Church," said Austin.
When Sunday came, they did not let the fire damage stop them from still meeting for church. They initially planned to hold service in the parking lot, but couldn't when it started raining. They were able to hold their Sunday Service at High Street Baptist Church right down the road instead.
Loyal Baptist Church currently has a team working to clean up the water damage, which is expected to take around 3 weeks. They'll need to replace the carpet, and the pews, and repair the walls.
Austin says that the support from the community is fueling their determination to rebuild.
"All of the support we've gotten so far from the city of Danville. from churches, organizations, community leaders. It's been very grateful, it really shows their heart and their concern for the church and the members so it's really been awesome," said Austin.
They are still waiting to hear back from their insurance company about covering the costs. They filed the claim on the of the fire, but still haven't heard back.
Austin says it would be at least 6 months before they can come back in the building.
The church leaders plan to meet to make the final decisions as to how they will move forward.