Leary church fire under investigation - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Leary church fire under investigation

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December 8, 2007

Leary -- Smoke billows from what remains of the Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Leary. Destroyed by a Saturday morning fire, its members could only watch in disbelief.

"Never imagined it. Tears of sadness came because of the times we have shared here and time we have spent to make this a great place to worship. To see it go up in flames is just a sad thing," said church pastor Dr. Willie Moore Jr.

Firefighters from Leary and surrounding counties were called out to the church just after 8 a.m. Saturday morning where they found it completely engulfed in flames.

"What we found here - half of the structure next to the fellowship - it was about half gone. It was fully involved," said Leary Volunteer Fire Dept. Asst. Chief Marty Butler.

Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, firefighters worked to contain the remaining hot spots. Now, only the walls of this historic church remain.

"It's 137 years old and we were able to renovate with a totally new facility here. Over the last 4 years, growth has been coming. This is just a sad time for us right now," said Moore.

While the cause of the fire remains unknown, arson investigators from the State Fire Marshall's office are on the scene. For now, the church and its more than 100 members must rely heavily on their faith.

"You find yourself being saddened that the sanctuary where you worship and bring all your problems to and take them to the Lord, is now gone. But never the less, we know the temple is in our bodies and we're keeping up the spirit in knowing that the Lord will build our sanctuary where we will be able to unify ourselves and our people," said Moore.

State arson investigators will be assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Church members say they plan to meet Sunday for services on the church grounds.

Donations can be made by mail with checks made payable to the Spring Creek Missionary Baptist Church P.O. Box 205 Leary, Georgia 31762.

For more information you can call 229-439-9506 or 229-436-6274.

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