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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Texas church to rebuild after fire

Texas church to rebuild after fire
Palestine, Texas
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Taken from

(The Palestine Herald) Smoke, fire and water damage won’t keep the congregation of Palestine, Texas Church of the Nazarene from worshipping.

The church was substantially burned in an early morning fire Wednesday, March 1. Representatives from the state fire marshal’s office have indicated “accelerants were used” in the blaze and authorities are saying it could be the work of an arsonist.

The church’s pastor, Charlie Cox, reported to Dallas District Superintendent Rob McDonald that the fire was caused by someone breaking the exterior window in Cox's office and throwing an incendiary device into the building.

The fire was one of three to be reported to Palestine sheriff’s authorities between 1:25 a.m. and 2:49 a.m. March 1.

The church held Sunday School and Morning Worship March 5 at a neighboring church in Palestine.

Most of the church was heavily damaged or destroyed — including the foyer, restrooms, library, nursery, pastor’s study, and the church parlor. The sanctuary sustained heavy smoke damage.

“Not only did we lose all of these rooms, we completely lost all our books including all of our history — handwritten notes from our church historian that are irreplaceable,” Cox said. “And this happened ironically on Ash Wednesday.

”Church members had expected the church to be considered a loss, but were informed by the insurance adjusters that it would be reconstructed.

“We have to do what we have to do,” Cox said. “We know now that we were probably under insured.”

Plans are currently under way for a new roof, new ceiling joists, replacing internal walls, replacing pew cushions, carpeting, and removing the stains and smoke smell out of the sanctuary.

“We are going to have to fix it up,” Cox said. “We don’t really have any other options but to reconstruct.

“We just say ‘Lord teach us from this.’ He has a new plan for us and we say ‘teach us Lord.’ We want to glorify Him,” Cox continued.

The Palestine Church of the Nazarene was built in 1973. The first Church of Nazarene was started in Palestine in 1956 and moved to a few locations before the new church was built in 1973.

The church has approximately 42 members with 30 attending on a regular basis. Cox and his wife Bonnie have served the church since November 2004.

“For people who have been here for a large part of their life, this is very difficult,” Cox said. “But the church isn’t just a building, the church is the people. The Lord is making us stronger, more determined in purpose and teaching us to be obedient in him.

“Good will come out of this — beauty from ashes as Isaiah 61:3-4 reads,” Bonnie Cox said. “We are praying not that more people will attend eventually, but that the people out there searching will know that there is an answer and there is hope.”

On the night after the fire, the congregation gathered at the parsonage for prayer.

“We prayed specifically for the salvation of the person or persons who did this,” Cox said.

Member Robert Wells has been attending the church since 1979.

“It’s like losing someone in your family,” Wells said of the fire.

Church treasurer Ray Lively has been a Nazarene since attending high school in Palestine in the 1950s. His parents were among the first members of the Palestine Church of the Nazarene at the older locations.

“It’s sickening,” he said of the fire. “It’s as if you burned your house. This has been my church home since I came back to Palestine in 1974.

“I’m looking forward to getting the church back together like it was.”

District Superintendent McDonald is asking for Nazarenes to “please be in prayer for the Palestine Church and pastor during this time.” --Palestine Herald, NCN News (Palestine Herald photo)


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