Fire Leaves Congregation Without A Church & Needing Help - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/16/05

Fire Leaves Congregation Without A Church & Needing Help

The congregation of a Biloxi church is sending up prayers, asking for help in overcoming tragedy.

Fire destroyed First Faith Missionary Baptist on Saturday. In the days since, members say they've been told there wasn't enough insurance to cover their loss.

It was like losing a family member for Bertha Otis.

"It's almost like looking at a cemetery."

As she looked at the ash and rubble that was once her church, she noticed how the pews "though they're burned and charred, the wood remains like tombstones in a cemetery."

Scattered in the debris, Otis found mementos of church's 30 year history and reminders of the uncertain future the congregation faces.

"We do have some insurance, but we found out after the fire that we didn't have enough," said Otis. "They told us value of the building was $500,000. We don't plan to rebuild to that magnitude again because we are a small congregation, but we have probably about half that much."

Minnie Anderson has served as everything from choir leader to secretary. She says the highs and lows that the congregation has endured over the years is captured in a hymn.

"We praised the Lord for this church and when we got through with this church we had a song saying 'We've Come this Far by Faith.' That's our song we sing to God, 'We've Come this Far by Faith.'"

From out of the ashes came faith. As I talked with the ladies, Otis noticed a half-burned hymnal. It was burned to the page showing the church's theme song.

"It's ironic that this book is burned to that page. I think that's God's way of letting us know that he is still with us," said Otis.

"I always like to say that even if we don't understand why, we know that God has something better for you. He never takes anything away from you that He don't give you better."

Church members say they want to build a smaller one story building. If you would like to help you can make a donation at any Bancorp South branch. Just ask to contribute to First Faith Missionary Baptist Church.

by Danielle Thomas

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