Investigators are still trying to determine how a fire started at New Salem Baptist Church in Griffin. They think the overnight storms and lightning may have sparked the fire on New Salem Road.
"I really am speechless. There's a lot of memories that have gone up in smoke here," parishioner Robbie Roper said.
Parishioners stared at the damage in disbelief.
"It looks like a war zone, don't you think? That room right down there is my Sunday school room," Roper said.
The fire started around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Michael Webb stepped outside his home to see the church on fire.
"I was just overwhelmed. The inferno, it was just a huge blaze. It's just history down the drain. We were sad on one hand and amazed on the other," Webb said.
The 150-person congregation stands strong in its faith.
"It's really hard because you have so many sweet memories of worship times and family times together, but at the same time, we know God has a plan. He has a purpose. We all know God doesn't live in that building, he lives in our hearts," parishioner Jarhonda Vaughn said.
Parishioner David Fastnacht believes he knows what that plan is.
"I can't say I'm not weeping inside, and it is sad, but it's time to grow. God has a way of speaking to us and we've got to listen," Fastnacht said.
Pastor Mike Barnes said fire and loss can't break this congregation.
"We had a lot of history destroyed. The physical evidence of it, but we're looking to the future. The church is not the building, the people are, and the people are ready to press forward," Barnes said.
They've already decided to hold Sunday service across the street at their Family Life Center. They know love and faith will hold them together and get them through the difficult time.
"Right now we're going to focus on loving God and letting his purpose be carried out in our lives and this unbelievably will be for our good and his glory," Barnes said.
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