Pastor Max Dempsey agreed, though he -- in his first pastorate -- has only been at the church 10 months.
At around 2:20 p.m., an explosion caused by a short in the attic startled day-care workers.It gave them time to get all 26 children -- napping on the first floor beneath the burning sanctuary -- to safety at a playground about 100 yard away.
By 2:40, Dempsey
watched the steeple plummet through the roof of the large brick building in a ball of fire.
"God has been given so much glory through the hearts of the people here.The children are safe, and the older members who helped build it are handling it with so much grace," the pastor said.
"We didn't lose our church, we simply lost our building.Our church is stronger than it's ever been."That's not just a heroic thought in a difficult time, Dempsey
said."It's the truth.Our church is more excited, more open than ever.That excites me as a pastor."
While volunteer firefighters still worked to contain the blaze in the main building at the time the Wednesday evening service normally starts, more than 200 church and community members met in the gym across the parking lot for a worship service, Dempsey
said."The people honestly met to say God is good in all things at all times."
Former pastors and other pastors from across the state, as well as the man who led Dempsey
to faith in Christ, came to encourage the church."It was an awesome time, and the excitement in the Lord was real and honest," Dempsey
Ironically, though the service took place, another meeting scheduled for that night didn't -- the first meeting of the church's vision committee, a group of members who were soon to plan the church's relocation or remodeling.
"We were going to seek the Lord and explore our options," Dempsey
said, noting God helped make the decision for them.Insurance coverage on the sanctuary will help pay for a replacement building.
The church, which averages 325 in Sunday services, could accommodate only about 225 people in the sanctuary."We were already outgrowing our facility, and we were fighting a losing battle with the old structure of the church," Dempsey