Congregation finds 'deeper meaning' in Christmas Eve church fire

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by JOSH DAVIS and STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on December 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 24 at 11:43 PM

FORT WORTH -- For many, the holidays are all about celebrating faith. But one Fort Worth congregation is getting its faith tested Monday. Their church burned overnight, leaving them in need of a sanctuary on one of the holiest of holidays.

In all, 32 fire units responded to the two-alarm fire in the 4600 block of Granbury Road, which was under control by 7:44 a.m.

The Chinese Baptist Church is the only one of its kind in Fort Worth. After 20 years in this building on Granbury, they must now find another place to worship.

About 150 people came to the church just hours before the fire for its annual Sunday Christmas service.

"We had someone as Joseph, Mary, and shepherds," said M.C. Leung, a congregant. "We even had angels and a lot of songs. Praise the Lord. It was a good service."

But sometime after that service, a fire broke out. Drivers passing by the church called the fire department at 7:20 a.m. Monday. In a matter of minutes, the fire went to two alarms, as the sanctuary filled with heavy smoke. Fire gutted the pulpit.

Fire and smoke damage to the interior of the church was heavy.

"The fire damage when from the floor through the top of the structure," said Capt. Tom Crow with the Fort Worth Fire Department. "Along with the fire, the smoke damage is going to be throughout the building."

The Chinese Baptist Church holds services in three different languages: Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Leung, who's been attending the church for 32 years, believes there's a deeper meaning in the Christmas Eve fire. He read a bible passage he said is appropriate for the day. "And we know in all things, God works for the good of those who love him," Leung recited.

Until repairs can be made, events will be held in the fellowship center next to the church, which was not damaged. No service had been planned for Monday night.

"The fellowship hall may not be big enough," Leung said, "but I think it will bring us closer together."

Another congregation member told us while he's very sad to see their church damaged, he's still thankful, because he knows there are many more people across the world who have it worse this Christmas.

"It's very important that we keep on praying," Gu Jin said. "This is our spiritual world. We worship here every Sunday."

Investigators are still determining the cause of the blaze.

No injuries were reported.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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