Dooly County Church members go on after fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dooly County Church members go on after fire

July 25, 2006

Dooly County -- A Dooly County church was destroyed by fire Monday evening. State Fire Marshal's Investigators say the cause was most likely lightning.

And even though the building was a complete loss, the congregation is upbeat about the future of their rural church.

Members of the Midway Independent Methodist Church in Dooly County sift through the remnants of their church. Steve Roney said "We believe it was a lightning strike. At the time there was a thunderstorm moving through the area."

The fire raced through the building just outside of Lilly Monday about 5 PM. Brothers Steve and Gene Roney are leaders of the church, and also volunteer firefighters who fought the blaze. Gene Roney said "The fire started in the fellowship hall, and the wind was blowing pretty strong, and it blew across into the sanctuary area, and we were unable to stop it."

The church was built in 1973, and now has about 25 active members. Phyllis Roney has been playing this piano in Sunday School since she was 13. It was one of the few things firemen were able to pull out of the blazing building. 

 Phyllis Roney said "we had a whole crew of fireman from across the county. They thought this was worth saving? "They were getting what they could, and we appreciated their efforts."

 The cross that hung on the wall of the sanctuary behind the pulpit was found Tuesday morning. Phyllis Roney said "It's sentimental to us, but the sign is in the people. The people that worship here and the community that support us, that's what will put the church back."

Members are pulling what they can from the ashes, but say their church still stands tall. Steve Roney said "This is the church building. It's not the church. The church is the people, so we are going to go on from here."

And going on means this Sunday, services will be held. Gene Roney said "We are going to have church Sunday. We are going to pitch a tent out here, and have services here. So we invite everybody to come by."

 And from these ashes members of the Midway Independent Methodist Church are already planning to rebuild on this same site. Gene Roney said "This is our church home site. We will just clean up and rebuild."

The lightning may have destroyed their church building, but this South Georgia congregation says their faith burns hotter than ever.

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