Congregation determined to rebuild

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A church’s sanctuary is destroyed after an early morning fire and just a month before it was all paid off.

Crews from Champaign and Urbana were called to the Mount Olive Mission Baptist Church, on East Bradley, about 3 am, Monday. They had to fight, not only the fire, but frigid conditions as well.

Flames were bursting through a local church Monday morning. For Terry Napper, this was more than just a building.

“I’ve been here all my life. Pretty much, the sanctuary is where I do all the directing. All my music is in there. Just to see this, it hurts.”

Napper is the music director and deacon at Mt. Olive. Just on Sunday, they had a beautiful service right inside these doors. This church now, is a complete loss.

“I was shocked, very shocked. Just kind of blown away pretty much from it. We just celebrated a great day earlier and now, to hear and see this, it’s just devastating, really heartbreaking.”

Napper says they were just one month away from paying off the bills on the new sanctuary. But, at 3 am, firefighters got the initial call smoke was rising.

“When our first companies arrived on the scene, they noticed smoke and flames coming from the roof.”

They spent hours attacking the fire and the heat was only one of their problems. Freezing temperatures were hazardous.

“The weather’s always going to be a factor, whether it’s hot or extremely cold. Extremely cold is a challenge because of the water. It freezes up. It’s also difficult trying to flow water in these types of environments. It’s a challenge, but our firefighters are up to a challenge and they did yoleman’s work today.”

As the sun started to come up, the damage was brought to light and the deacon sees it as a new day to rebuild.

“It doesn’t break our spirit. Things happen and we’re just going to continue to go on because that’s what God would want us to do.”

The water was so bad, the excess water was icing the street. The City of Champaign helped by bringing a salt truck. They were there salting the parking lot as firefighters continued battling flames.

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