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McIntyre Baptist Church undaunted by destructive fire

 

Sonia Barfield/McIntyre Baptist Church

The fire that destroyed McIntyre Baptist Church was most likely caused by an electrical malfunction, said officials. The structure was more than 100 years old.

Sonia Barfield, who works for the Wilkinson County News, was asleep at home in the early morning hours of Feb. 28 when she heard some rather startling news on her scanner. The scanner was sounding the alarm that McIntyre Baptist Church, Barfield’s very own, was engulfed in flames.

Barfield immediately called her pastor, Terry Moseley, at about 3 a.m. to report the heartbreaking news. Moseley, who lives in the church parsonage just about 150 yards from the property where the church building now lies in ruins, went outside to investigate the report for himself and saw the church building engulfed in flames.

“The church is situated on the top of a hill,” he said. “The building is over 100 years old. Much of the building is made of heart pine and as everyone knows fat lighter wood is highly flammable.”

Firefighters from McIntyre, Toomsboro, Gordon, Irwinton, and High Hills answered the alarm and valiantly fought the conflagration for hours in freezing temperatures, but, in reality, there was little they could do to save the century-old church building.

Moseley stood and watched as his church building burned to the ground. The fire destroyed the pulpit, pews, hymnals, Sunday School literature, the Easter cantata music – everything but the front porch.

Many of the pastor’s personal possessions also went up in smoke, including a project he was working on for his seminary degree – a gospel tract he was translating into the Spanish language.

Moseley, who has served the church for six years, also lost his personal library, his sermons, Fender bass guitar, Fender acoustic guitar, studio microphone, computer, and among other things, pictures from mission trips that had great significance to him.

Extra measures to prevent facility change

Although it's been determined an electrical malfunction caused the McIntyre Baptist Church fire, steps can be taken to protect facilities from arsonists.
• Illuminate the exterior and entrances.
• Promote church watches in the neighborhood.
• Educate neighbors about recognizing any unusual activities.
• Be aware that individuals may pose as service technicians to get into a church.
• Be aware of individuals who may be disgruntled or likely to vandalize property.
• Keep shrubbery and trees trimmed so buildings can be observed by patrols.
• Consider fencing areas that are not readily visible to patrols or neighbors.
• Ladders and other devices allowing access to roof areas should be secured.
• Secure hidden basement entries.
• Install burglary and fire alarms.
• Keep a current list of those who have access to church keys and change the locks periodically.

— From the office of John Oxendine, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.

The Macon Telegraph reported, “All but one of Moseley’s Bibles were in the church when the fire started. [By daylight] he peered down into the church nursery where the remnants of his office had collapsed from overhead. In the smoking rubble, he saw what appeared to be intact pages from his study Bible.”

By midday the local police; firefighters; agents from the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm Department; and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine were on the scene to view the ruins. The authorities have concluded that the fire was likely the result of an electrical malfunction.

Moseley agreed that the devil was not happy with some of the good things happening in the life of the church. He has been teaching on “Why Evolution Isn’t Right.” The church had just licensed a member, Charles Lowery, to preach the gospel. Two people had recently made professions of faith and are candidates for baptism, and others, according to Moseley, are moving ever closer to making decisions for Christ.

“God is moving in the life of our church,” Moseley admitted. “I am confident He is going to help us pull all this together. We are preparing to watch Him do His work. He will surely bring good out of this tragedy.”

Within hours of the destructive fire God had already begun to work through His people in nearby churches. Big Sandy Baptist Church had provided the pastor with some money to begin to replenish his library. Ivy Baptist Church brought the church some hymnals for their future worship services. Several had offered their facilities for the Sunday worship services. McIntyre Church accepted the offer of the McIntyre Fire Department to hold both their morning and evening services there on March 2. On Sunday morning Moseley preached a message on I Corinthians 3:9 where the Apostle Paul reminded the church at Corinth: “For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

For the first worship service after the fire, there were 20 percent more people in attendance than usual. It was apparent to all that the real church had in no way been destroyed.