Woodland United Methodist reacts to loss, damage from Grady Co. fire

By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 19, 2019

GRADY CO., Ga. (WCTV) -- Woodland United Methodist Church says despite the immense amount of fire damage, they're counting their blessings. The Tuesday night fire was stopped just before reaching their most treasured space.

"These pews are handmade from the old church building and we saved everyone of them," said Pastor Buddy Whatley.

The pastor is thankful that the inside of their historic church sanctuary remained untouched by the fire.

"The firefighters did a great job and saved the oldest and most valuable parts, which meant a lot to all of us," said Whatley.

Brothers Benny and Martin Prince are third generation church members.

"We'll miss it. It's just a good gathering place with good families out here," said Benny.

A special place, where both married their wives.

The Prince brothers are now hoping to see the parts salvaged one day fixed.

"The fellowship building, there's no fixing it, but the church I hope can be repaired," said Martin.

The fire and water damage in the main church building was mostly contained to the rafters.

However, the fellowship building behind it was a complete loss.

"It's just disappointing what happened," said Stanley Elkins, a longtime church member.

The church says it will need to be rebuilt, much like the work Elkins helped out with as a teen. He helped with new construction, adding on the fellowship building back in the 80s.

"We're strong. We will survive and get through it. We will rebuild it and it will be bigger and better than ever," said Elkins.

A Cairo church damaged by fire, but standing firm in faith.

"I've heard people say time and time again God has a plan, and part of his plan started when he saved this sanctuary," said Whatley.

The church says they're taking the loss one day at a time.

They've planned to have their Sunday service with their sister church, Bold Springs United Methodist, for the next several weeks.

Thursday, the pastor received the report from the State Fire Marshall.

He says the origin of the fire was reported to be an electric stove that sparked near a gas line inside their fellowship building, and that he's thankful no one was there to get hurt.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
September 18, 2019

GRADY COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) – Investigators are sifting through the debris, trying to figure out what sparked a fire that tore through a south Georgia church late Tuesday night.

Grady County Fire responded to Woodland United Methodist Church around 11 p.m. Tuesday. The church is at the corner of Woodland Rd. and Elkins Rd., north of Cairo.

Firefighters say the flames started in the church’s fellowship building, then spread to the nearby worship building.

The fellowship building sustained the worst damage and is burned down to its foundation.

Fire crews were on scene until about 3 am.

We've reached out to the church pastor for comment but have not heard back. Look for updates on this story as we learn more.

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