The sanctuary of Greater Faith United Missionary Baptist Church, Columbia, was destroyed by an electrical fire July 31.
Church members had met earlier for two services that Sunday before flames were reported around 2 p.m. The building was empty when firefighters arrived.
Charles Graham, pastor of Greater Faith, said the building, which had formerly been a sewing shop, had been converted into a sanctuary 30 years ago. Members had burned the mortgage note for the building about seven years ago, he added.
Carlisle Driggers, a former South Carolina Baptist Convention executive-director treasurer, had helped dedicate the building, Graham noted. Greater Faith, which now has more than 150 members, is affiliated with Columbia Metro Baptist Association.
Despite the building being a total loss — estimated at more than $750,000 — the congregation remains optimistic and is accepting donations to build it back better than before, Graham said. “And when we get through this, I’m gonna invite y’all back and show ya what the Lord has done,” he told television news reporters.
In the meantime, he said, “We’re keeping everybody together,” and the congregation will be meeting at Belmont Baptist Church, just around the corner, for services.