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Cause not yet determined in church fire
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Truth and Faithful Gospel Church member Fredericka Tinsley is shown Thursday at the remains of the church. The church and its former parsonage were destroyed by a fire early Wednesday morning. A cause has not been determined. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Friday, September 6, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The congregation of Truth and Faithful Gospel Church near Bassett Forks is looking for a new place to worship following a fire that destroyed the church and its adjacent former parsonage early Wednesday.

Pastor Brenda Jefferson said that as of late Thursday afternoon, she had been unable to find a new meeting place. She said she was hoping to find a place that could easily accommodate 100 people.

If a suitable place is not found by Sunday, church members will be asked to participate in services at other area churches that day, according to member Fredericka Tinsley.

A decision as to whether the structures will be rebuilt has not yet been made, according to Jefferson and property trustee Raymond Garrett.

The church had moved to the 700 block of Melrose Drive from a location on Ellsworth Street in Martinsville about a year ago, Jefferson said.

The fire was reported at 5:32 a.m. Wednesday. Firefighters arrived to find heavy flames coming from the roof of the recently vacated house. The fire then spread to a nearby garage and the church, according to Henry County Public Safety officials. They have said the structures cannot be repaired.

Officials have not made much progress in their investigation into the fire.

County Fire Marshal Pete Draper said that as of Thursday morning, crews still were quenching smoldering “hot spots” that erupted from time to time. By the afternoon, they had not been able to enter the church, he said.

“We haven’t made any assumptions whatsoever” as to what caused the blaze, Draper said.

However, he has said there have been no indications it was purposely set.

Jefferson is not so sure. She said the church has been the target of some vandalism in recent months, but police were unable to determine the culprit.

Although the church was destroyed, Tinsley said she and other members think some items in its basement, including tables, chairs and pictures, probably are in good enough condition to be salvaged.

Jefferson said the congregation is “very devastated” that the fire occurred.

“So many members had done so much” to help beautify the church building, Tinsley said.

Despite her sadness, Tinsley found something to smile about as she looked at the church’s remains Thursday. She said she knows God somehow will help the congregation replace what it has lost.

“We’re just thankful that nobody was hurt ... and nobody was here” when the fire occurred, she added.


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