WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Officials in Williamsburg County responded to a fire at around 4:39 AM and, unfortunately, found Bethlehem Baptist Church engulfed in flames.
It was a fire that Williamsburg County Fire Department Captain William Horton could see from about four miles down the road.
There were several stations from the area that came out to handle the fire.
However, they weren’t able to salvage anything from the building.
With the oldest found document coming from 1873, this building is one of the oldest churches in the area and has done good work in the community.
This fire left many residents in the area shocked when they discovered how bad the damage really was.
“It’s devastating to this congregation obviously, but it’s devastating to the community as well. The church does a lot just for the surrounding area and I know this church has been here for as long as I can remember I grew up from around here and passed it for as many years as I have been in a vehicle just about and I know they have a tight congregation here and I hate it for them, but everybody it’s kind of like a phoenix rises from the ashes and do their thing again and they’ll be right back here shortly. I’m sure.”Captain William Horton, Williamsburg County Fire Department
Officials are currently investigating for a potential cause of the fire.
No matter what the cause may turn out to be, members of Bethlehem Baptist Church are still holding on to their faith and plan on having church service in the church yard this Sunday.
The determination and strong spirit of this church could also be found in its leader, Pastor Otis Prioleau, who believes that the church can use this incident to help others who are dealing with a tragic event of their own.
“This is a type of situation here where you have an opportunity to live what you preach. You have an opportunity to be an example for other congregations, for other people that tragedy happened in their lives, so we find it a privilege to be able to share our faith…so the message is that we’re going to move forward… God is still in charge and he’s still operating… and we’re going to be okay.”Pastor Otis Prioleau, Bethlehem Baptist Church
This tragic event may have burned down a building brought together a church and a community.