The sanctuary of a N.C. Baptist church in Pendleton was destroyed by fire Thursday, Oct. 30.
The pastor of Roberts Chapel Baptist Church, James D. Crocker, said foul play is not suspected. The fire might have been caused by problems with an oil furnace or faulty wiring, he said.
“We completely lost the sanctuary,” he said. “We’re not sure if we’re going to be able to salvage the fellowship hall.”
The congregation moved into the building in 1927, according to Crocker.
Church families had donated the stained glass windows and pews, he said.
“It was just a lot of history and a lot of memories that cannot be replaced,” he said.
Crocker said the postmaster at a post office across the street called him about 12:45 p.m. to tell him she saw smoke coming out of the church building.
After he went to the church and saw smoke when he opened a door, he yelled for her to call 911.
Eight fire departments battled the fire. Firefighters stayed on the scene till about 1 a.m. on Oct. 31, according to Crocker, who has been at the church since October 2005.
“They’d get it down and it’d keep blazing back up,” he said.
The deacons met the morning after the fire and decided to accept an offer to hold Sunday services at the local Masonic Lodge building about a half mile from the church. The congregation might decide Sunday whether to keep meeting at the lodge, which has offered its building for as long as the church needs it.
The church also had offers from other churches, the West Chowan Baptist Association and Chowan University, Crocker said.
“We’ve had a number of offers,” he said. “We’re really grateful and appreciative.”
Crocker said church members are stunned.
“Our folks are strong,” he said. “We’re going to move forward.”
Church members, who are from the surrounding farm community, will be sure to rebuild the church in an intelligent, methodical way, Crocker said.
“They’ll do this thing back right,” he said.