First Baptist members reminded church is more than a building after fire

First Baptist Church patrons gathered at Elkhart Christian Academy after a Satruday fire damaged their building

Posted on Oct. 29, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — Members of First Baptist Church between Elkhart and Bristol banded together and worshipped at Elkhart Christian Academy Sunday morning after their church building was damaged by a fire Saturday afternoon.

The church at 53953 C.R. 17 caught fire Saturday afternoon and senior pastor John Blodgett said all of the seven-year-old building sustained damage in the blaze. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Though First Baptist’s “Trunk or Treating” kids’ event was still held on church grounds Sunday afternoon, services won’t be held there for some time.

First Baptist was able to move its services, which regularly see attendance of 1,200 to 1,300 people, to ECA because the church also owns the school building.

Sitting in folding chairs and on the bleachers in the school’s gymnasium, the congregation banded together to worship despite the adversity experienced the day before.

“They have been wonderful,” Blodgett said of his parishioners. “Great attitudes today. They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them.”

Arvilla Maier, who, along with her husband, has been a member of First Baptist since 1964, said she trusts that the situation is in stronger hands.

“I was sad but I knew we’d be okay because I knew God would work it out,” she explained. “We don’t know the reason but He’ll work it out for good.”

Near the end of the 10:30 a.m. service, Blodgett gave the congregation words of encouragement. “This is a trial. This is a difficulty. But we’ll get through it.”

Maier observed that the significance of a building reaches only so far. “The church is really the people and it’s not about a building particularly,” she said.

Blodgett said he doesn’t know when the church’s worship center will be ready for services again but did say they hope to have the large common area repaired in several weeks so services can be held there.

Services will continue to be held at ECA while clean-up and repairs to the church are completed.

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