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FORTWORTH-- As members of Greater Canaan Missionary Baptist Church took their seats on the lawn at 1600Effie,their burned out church was the backdrop for a service full of symbolism.

'It's just a reminder to our people that in spite of being down, we can still get up,' said Pastor Kenneth Sayles, Sr.

They could still get up and sing. Together their voices drowned out cars passing on the streetand blockedout the memory of their sanctuary engulfed in flames.Investigators don't know what causedFriday morning's fire.

The church was founded 52 years ago in the historic Stop 6 neighborhood of southeast Fort Worth.Willie Choice is pastor Sayles' mother and a founding member.

'I couldn't come down and look at ituntil Saturday,' Choice said as her eyes filled with tears. 'It was just too much.'

Pastor Sayles said the church's destruction is an opportunity for the churchto rebuild and reconnect with a community in need.

'We'vebeen saying for years we wanted a daycare,' said Sally Lewis, a member of the church for 11 years. 'Asyou can see we are in the Stop 6 community. We help a lot of families.'

Lewis used an old keyboard to belt out hymns with the choir. Her organ was one of the casualties of the fire.

'Everything that we worship God with is over there,' Lewis said pointing to the gutted building.'But the instrument that God has placed inside of us, we are going to lift it up today.'

'It's a new beginning for us. We're going to start over,' Choice said. 

A congregation starting over, starting today and looking forward to tomorrow.

Pastor Sayles said future services will be held at other facilities donated by neighboring churches.

E-mail: cwade@wfaa.com

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