Florida Church Recovering After Fire Destroys Their Building

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames at First Baptist Church of Milligan in Baker, Fla., on Tuesday (July 9). Photo courtesy of Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

First Baptist Church of Milligan is recovering from a fire on Tuesday (July 9) that was likely caused by lightning from a thunderstorm, according to media reports.

Pastor Charles Smith said he was the last one to leave the church building, located in Baker, Fla., around 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. He received a phone call within the hour from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office telling him that the church was on fire.

“We’re thankful that nobody got hurt or killed in this fire,” Smith said. “It was pretty much engulfed by the time I got there, it is a total loss.”

Local church leaders, pastors and church members gathered across the street from the church, located on Old River Road, watching the fire unfold. Smith said the church decided to hold their mid-week prayer service the next day at a church member’s home and will be meeting at First Baptist Church of Baker this Sunday.

“A lot of churches would cancel their mid-week service, but I thought it would be good for our church to get together in the wake of this tragedy,” Smith said.

Some Southern Baptist leaders have contacted Smith by phone and tweeted messages of support to the pastor. Among those encouraging him during this challenging time include Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, and president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee Ronnie Floyd.

Floyd tweeted that during a phone conversation with Smith he “assured him of our support for him and his fellowship.”

Next steps, Smith noted, include checking what insurance can cover, tearing down what remains of the sanctuary, educational building and fellowship hall as well as searching for a more permanent building to rent.

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Source: Baptist Press