Fire destroys building; congregation stays strong
By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
PARSONS — On the night of Jan. 21, Adam Wood, the pastor of Bear Creek Baptist Church in Parsons, was making his normal drive home after a normal Sunday night service and business meeting.
Then things took a very abnormal turn.
Around the midway mark of his roughly 20-minute commute home, Wood received a phone call from one of the members, who told him that the church was on fire. The member had heard the call go out while listening to the police scanner.
Firefighters from multiple stations responded to the scene. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but the blaze left a trail of destruction.
“The building was a total loss,” Wood said. “The fire completely burned every bit of it. We were able to salvage a handful of things, but the building was gone.”
There has not yet been an official word on the cause of the fire, but “investigators suspect it was something electrical,” Wood said.
Investigators told Wood that the fire almost certainly had already started while the Sunday night services were taking place. But the blaze didn’t become noticeable — or dangerous — until after all the members had left the church campus.
“We wrapped up about 7:15 and the last people left the church around 7:20 or a little after,” said Wood. “And then, as I was on my way home, I got the phone call at 7:33 (about the fire). So, I turned around and went back. By the time I got there, even just in those few minutes, I’d say about a quarter of the building had been destroyed.”
The church ultimately lost its sanctuary, fellowship hall, educational space and storage area — all of which were adjoined to the main building.
“Fortunately, our insurance is good. So, there’s no problem there,” said Wood.
But emotionally? That’s the part that has been difficult, Wood said.
“This has been really hard on a lot of our elderly members,” he said. “We have people who have been at the church for more than 80 years; people who got married in that building, their kids were married there, family members were saved and baptized there.”
Showing its resolve, the church held worship service the very next Sunday, Jan. 28, at the church’s parsonage, which is currently not being lived in. (Wood, a bivocational pastor, lives in Lexington, and is a teacher and band director at Lexington High School.)
Wood said the church voted to continue holding services in the parsonage during the coming weeks while they determine their next move.
“We know we are going to rebuild, but we haven’t determined where just yet,” he said. “We are going to keep our options open. We may end up building in the same area. There was a lot of discussion about that Sunday.”
Wood said the members are making the most of the difficult situation. “Our congregation is surprisingly upbeat, and there’s been a lot of positivity,” he said. “People are saying, hey, this happened, God has a purpose for it and we’re trusting Him. He knows what’s best, even if it doesn’t make sense to us right now.”
Wood said the outpouring of support he and the church have received since the fire has been amazing.
“We’ve had churches all over our area that have reached out to us, offering help,” he said. “Anything from loaning chairs and tables to toys for the nursery.
“We even had several congregations who offered their facilities to us to use for worship, and we’ve had some who have offered to have us join with them while we are still in this process,” Wood said.
“I’ve had several pastors reach out to me personally,” he added, “and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board has been great, too. (TBMB executive director and president) Randy Davis called me, and I heard from (TBMB director of strategic objectives) Roc Collins. So, it’s been really great to see the support we have received from our fellow Baptists.”