First destroys sanctuary of southwest Virginia church, just days before Christmas celebration - Word&Way

First destroys sanctuary of southwest Virginia church, just days before Christmas celebration

GRUNDY, Va. — The sanctuary of Grundy Baptist Church [] in southwest Virginia was destroyed Dec. 15 by a fire which also seriously damaged the church’s education building and parsonage.


The sanctuary of Grundy Baptist Church smoulders following the fire that destroyed it Dec. 15. (WCYB photo by Megan Gorey)

Strong winds made it difficult for firefighters to battle the flames, reported WCYB, [] a television station in Bristol, Va., about 75 miles south of Grundy. By the time the fire department arrived, the sanctuary “was too far gone for us to do anything,” Grundy Fire Department chief Phillip VanDyke told WCYB.

The television station said VanDyke believes the fire started in the sound room of the sanctuary, which suggests the cause was electrical.

The sanctuary of the 108-year-old church, which has about 500 members, was built in the 1950s. It is affiliated with both the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the New Lebanon Baptist Association.

Attempts to contact pastor Donald Tittle or other church members were unsuccessful. But the church’s Facebook page [!/grundybaptist?sk=info] reported it will hold worship services Sunday, Dec. 18, in facilities of the Appalachian School of Law, located next door to the church.

“Grundy Baptist Church will worship this Sunday morning b/c Christ is still the king!” the post said. “… We will rise together from these Aashes!”

Dozens of expressions of sympathy also were posted on Grundy’s page, many describing cherished memories of the church.

“So so sorry for all of you,” wrote one. “Grundy Baptist Church is like losing an old friend; it was always standing there proud & tall. The Lord will bring you all back even better & stronger. You have your memories — cherish them. God will help you heal from all this.”

Another said, “I have such wonderfully cherished memories of Grundy Baptist Church where I started going at the age of 6-weeks and grew up in that church. My late mother loved Grundy Baptist as well, and we truly enjoyed attending together. It was a great church, and will be again! I am praying for all of you.”

WCYB’s report of the fire is available here. Video will be posted soon, said the station’s new media manager.

Robert Dilday is managing editor of the Religious Herald.