With their church building still smoldering in the background, Dow Southern Baptist met for worship in the parking lot August 2. Five days after the church lost a significant portion of its building to arson, Pastor David Brown (right) preached on how God uses fire to refine and restore.
“As bad as this is,” Brown told the Illinois Baptist, “we have the promise of God’s restoration, and eternity with him in something brand new.”
The worship service came together after Brown’s wife noted the fire’s aftermath felt like a death. After losing something precious, the couple decided, there was a need to gather, to laugh and cry together, and to support one another.
“The majority of the congregation came on Sunday. We need one another,” Brown said. “The community also needed to see that the church wasn’t gone.”
His church had resumed meeting in-person in June after three months of online services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Brown said, the church is back to asking what they will do for the immediate future, although a restoration crew has already been inside the sanctuary, which was spared in the July 29 fire. Local churches and businesses have also offered temporary space.
Lost in the fire was the original sanctuary, built in 1971 and now used for offices and Sunday school classrooms. Officials still believe the cause is arson, and the case is ongoing, Brown said.
The pastor noted the outpouring of support from the community, expressing his gratitude on the church’s Facebook page.
“Thank you for the many prayers and words of comfort that have been extended to our church family,” he wrote. “To know that so many people are praying for us gives us the strength we need to face this terrible situation knowing we are not alone.”
In a Facebook Live update less than a day after the fire, Brown encouraged his church and community to remember the church is not the building. And, he added, “God is not done.”
Photos courtesy of Dow Southern Baptist Church