Waurika_It has been two months since the First Methodist Church of Waurika sustained almost $1 million in damage after it was set on fire. Last week, 19-year-old Justin Adams pled no contest to two felony charges connected to the blaze. He is charged with burglarizing the church and setting it on fire. Church officials plan to move to a new location, and already are planning for their new church.
Reverend Trevor Smith says the church congregants have really pulled together to make sure they don't miss a Sunday sermon or Wednesday night Bible study. For the past two months, they have held church in a high school band room, and this week they plan to have a temporary place to call home until their new church is built.
It took only one hour for fire to destroy the site where the place of worship stood for more than 50 years. Smith says it will take time to build a new house of worship. "We're realizing that we are going to have a longer process," he said. "It's going to take about a year to rebuild our sanctuary."
Meanwhile, Reverend Smith's congregation will move wherever it must in order to meet for church events. "One of the parts of the Christmas story was that there was no room for Jesus to be born, and our congregation is relating to that in a new way this year," he said. "But, we are blessed because there is room for us here in our town."
For the first time in two months, Smith's congregation will meet in an actual church - one of two locations donated temporarily by the city. "We'll just kind of be in a couple locations, and we're just continuing to work to be creative to continue our ministries and be united as a congregation," he said.
Smith says he has not met with the man responsible for setting the church on fire, but says he would like to meet with him soon. "I guess I would just ask him what his motivation was, or why this happened," he said. "Hopefully we could get around to the part of conversation of how he is doing, and to get to know him a little bit."
Damage to the church currently is estimated at $700,000, and the only thing that could be salvaged was a load bearing wall. This week, the First Methodist Church of Waurika is meeting with architects and contractors to begin planning future construction.
After pleading no contest for his involvement in starting the fire, Justin Adams has been enrolled in the Custody RID Program which is a delayed sentencing program for young adults. Once Adams has completed the program, he will have a sentencing hearing.
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