28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a]have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
I was not expecting what I saw on Monday morning at Calvary Baptist Church in Emporia. I got an e-mail on Sunday night from Ken Kessler that there was an electrical fire and could I go check on the church. As I approached the church Monday morning, I noticed their three story educational building had major damage, and was a total loss. The sanctuary had smoke damage and will not be available to be used for 6-8 months as well. After talking with their Pastor, Dr. Walter Laseter, I was relieved to hear no one was in the building when the fire took place on Saturday morning.
After hearing the good news, I wondered how they will handle such grief of losing this very important part of their church? There will always be questions of “Why?” We don’t know the answers, but we do know according to Romans 8:28 that God is working in the midst of whatever we face. With the support of God and others we can work through the grief and see God opening new possibilities for the Kingdom. The Body of Christ will work through this crisis together with God’s help.
In the meantime there are a few questions to ponder: What will they do for Sunday School and Bible study space while rebuilding? Their sanctuary was still intact, but the water for their property will be off for an undetermined amount of time. They had worship on Sunday morning at a local park with frequent interruptions of trains coming through the nearby tracks. What do you do when the major hub for Bible study, Sunday School and program space is no longer there?
Here are a few thoughts, but I would love to hear from you. If your church has gone through renovations, disaster or other means that took your Bible study classrooms, what did you do? Perhaps you can assist Calvary Baptist in coming up with possibilities. Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Check with local churches about using some of their space. There may be churches close by not using their space when you need it. Perhaps it is a smaller congregation with space to share.
2. Check with local government, civic and support agencies. Are there buildings nearby not used on Sundays from these groups who could offer help? In the case of Calvary Baptist, the local rescue squad has offered their building to help out for worship.
3. Rent modular units. Some churches during expansion, renovation and other times have rented modular units to help with space.
4. Provide Bible study in homes. Are there members living close enough to the church to offer Bible study in their homes?
I do believe God will see Calvary Baptist Church through this time, and God will be glorified. Thew day before the fire, the church sign had this message: I WON’T GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE. YOU MIGHT BEND BUT YOU WILL NOT BREAK