Congregation holds onto hope for church’s future after fire

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Multiple crews fight church fire

Clinton Fire Department

CLINTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Members of the Clinton Assembly of God are uniting even more than before as they try to salvage parts of the sanctuary that was destroyed in a fire on Tuesday.

Part of the church building is now a massive pile of rubble. The fire started Tuesday morning. The pastor said he has high hopes for the congregation’s future moving forward.

Charred edges of old photos mark the remnants of a fire that burned the church sanctuary to the ground. The pictures were of the church sanctuary groundbreaking held decades ago. Those photos were found in the rubble.

“This is devastating to me and it’s sad and it’s hard to deal with,” said Tina Turley, a long-time church member. She was dedicated at the church as a baby.

Firefighters were able to stop the flames from spreading to the other parts of the church.

Last week was the first time in months the church had gathered for service. “This is just a building,”said Pastor Nick Blacklidge. “We haven’t been in it for a while because of quarantine. We had one service last week. So, we know we’re not dependent on a building.” Blacklidge said, despite what happened, they will still have service this Sunday. “We have a tent going in the front yard and we’re going to have a service in front of all the wreckage. I’m looking forward to worshiping with my church family.” And looking into the future, church members are holding onto hope that this will only help them become stronger.

“We will step out of this and become something bigger and better,” said Turley. “I do look forward to that.” The church plans to clean out the other part of the building and once the smoke is cleared, they will open that up to hold services while they begin to rebuild the main sanctuary. Other churches have offered their buildings as space to hold services in the meantime.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. The Clinton Fire Commissioner said they do not think there was anything suspicious about how it started.

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