Church Gutted by Fire in Fort Worth

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Flames were shooting from Greater Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in the 1600 block of Effie Street early Friday morning. (Published Friday, Jun 13, 2014)

    A Fort Worth church was gutted in an early-morning fire Friday.

    Just before 5 a.m., firefighters were called to the Greater Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in the 1600 block of Effie Street.

    Fort Worth Church Destroyed by Fire

    [DFW] Fort Worth Church Destroyed by Fire
    A Fort Worth church was gutted in an early-morning fire Friday. (Published Friday, Jun 13, 2014)

    Flames were shooting through the roof when firefighters arrived.

    Fort Worth fire officials say the fire moved through the building quickly and the roof showed signs of collapse, so firefighters were ordered out of the building and began an exterior attack. A total of 40 firefighters and 15 vehicles were called to the fire.

    FW Church Gutted by Fire

    [DFW] FW Church Gutted by Fire
    The Greater Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth was destroyed by fire early Friday morning. (Published Friday, Jun 13, 2014)

    Throughout the day church members salvaged what little they could from the debris.

    "There's a lot of things that we just really cherish, that we love about our building," said Pastor Kenneth Sayles, Sr. "We spent a lot of time beautifying it."

    Pastor Sayles was called around 5 a.m. about the fire and got to the scene before firefighters extinguished it around 5:45 a.m.

    "We just stood back and watched it burn, knowing it was a structure, just a house, that we as Christian meet in," Pastor Sayles said.

    Church members were able to find very little of what they left behind at the last services on Wednesday night. About all they could pull from the ashes were a few trays full of change, to be used for the children's field trips as part of vacation Bible school. 

    "It's not in vain, we're still going to go as planned," said Sally Lewis, a church member.

    The church was built 55 years ago and the fire department estimates the damage at $415,000. It's a significant loss for this 60 member congregation, but not the end of the church.

    "I know that it's not the end, it's just the beginning of a new start," Pastor Sayles said. "Knowing that God is in everything."

    Sayles grew up across the street attending the church. He returned 15 years ago to become the pastor. He says despite the tragedy both his and his congregation's spirits are up.

    "I feel that things are going to work out just well, we'll be rebuilding probably in the same place," he said. "Things are looking good already. Even after a short while, the mindset of the people it's all on the upward bound. That's what it ought to be."

    Pastor Sayles was set to marry Lewis in the church next month.

    "(Was) going to walk down that aisle, but I guess we'll be walking down another aisle," Lewis said.

    She hopes to hold a reception in their new fellowship hall one day, but now the plans are focused on rising from the ashes of the fire.

    "We'll be right here, we'll start making plans, preparation for every day after that, on and on," he said, referring to Sunday services.

    The congregation will hold services on a lot next door to the building this Sunday. 

    No on was injured in the fire. The Fort Worth Fire Department hadn't confirmed a cause of the fire yet, but Sayles says he was told it appeared electrical.

    NBC 5's Josh Ault and Ellen Bryan contributed to this report.