A local pastor is preparing to speak to his congregation within the hour after his church was destroyed by fire Tuesday night. News of the fire spread quickly in the small town of Lamont in Jefferson County.
Church members are still in disbelief, but Pastor Glenn Lewis says this is the perfect time for his congregation to come together as a family. Late Tuesday evening, members of Lamont Baptist Church could only watch as their place of worship went up in flames.
“I went to bed shortly after midnight, I couldn't go to sleep. I eventually go up, went to my office, did some praying, writing, studying, tried to get my thoughts together," says Pastor Lewis.
Monticello native Glenn Lewis has been the pastor of this church for about a year. He said he felt called to lead this church in Lamont, and he answered that call. In the past year, membership has doubled and improvements were made to the church's exterior. Now, nearby residents and church members are devastated.
"It's sort of heart breaking to know that it burned down and I hope that another one can be built," says Lamont resident Martha Bailey.
"From a little kid, being brought to this church, everybody that you grew up with, it's a close knit family. We were all just standing here watching it go up in flames. It brought us together in a very harsh way," adds church member Lindsay Peters.
Among the items saved were a Bible, a few hymnals, the church's pulpit and a cross. Pastor Lewis feels what has happened is an ultimate test of his faith.
"God is faithful, God is going to see us through it. The building may be destroyed but our spirits are not, and he's still on the throne, and I believe he has great things in store," he expresses.
A detective with the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office says he's pretty sure the fire started in the church's kitchen area, but it is currently under investigation and so far nothing points to arson.
Pastor Lewis has already received an offer from the pastor of another church to have their services there, but Lewis says Wednesday and Sunday he plans on holding services right in front of there own church in a pavilion they have set up.
Not two weeks ago, a Tallahassee church was destroyed by fire, but in that case it was ruled an arson. The suspect is still in psychiatric care and has not yet been charged.