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Carrollton church sanctuary destroyed by overnight fire | News

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Carrollton church sanctuary destroyed by overnight fire
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CARROLLTON, Ga. -- Members of Bethesda Baptist Church in Carroll County are gathering for a special prayer meeting Wednesday night.

Many are still in shock after a fire destroyed their 91 year old sanctuary.

"All the sudden the room was real bright, it was glowing," said Kenny McDermitt who lives about a block away from the church, which sits near the corner of Bethesda Church and Walker Roads.

McDermitt woke up around 4:30am to find the church engulfed in flames and immediately called 911.

"I was thinking the sun had come up but of course the sun doesn't come up in the South," he said.

Members who rushed to the scene say they could see the plume of fire and smoke cloud from miles away. 

Tim Barnes is the sixth generation in his family to attend the church.  Some even helped to build it.

He watched early Wednesday morning as the pine wood used to build the sanctuary 91 years ago, turned to ash.

Looking at the building he can't help but think about where his parents used to sit every Sunday and even their funerals, held inside the building.

"I could go in there right now in the debris and just about pinpoint that's where they normally sat," said Barnes.

Investigators believe the fire started near the front of the church, near the electrical boxes. But the ATF and state fire marshal will investigate to rule out foul play.  

"I would prefer not to think someone would want to harm a church building or harm a church," said Pastor Mike Owenby.

Whatever the cause, Owenby says the church will move on, perhaps even stronger than before.

"We're not going to let this hamper our ministry at all. Will it leave scars, yes but still we will carry on our ministry," said Owenby.

The church built a new sanctuary in 2006 and that is where the hold their main service.  The old sanctuary was being primarily used for office space and Sunday school classes.

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