Parishioners working to recover after Arkansas community church goes down in flames

State News

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ark. – A church in Johnson County that stood seven decades is now a pile of ash. Union Grove Baptist Church caught fire on Saturday. Now church members are looking to rebuild.

For decades, people from all walks of life have entered the doors of Union County Baptist Church to pray and worship.

“I’ve gone here my whole life since I was 18 months old,” longtime member Christy Collins said.

“It was a wonderful church to grow up in,” former member Janice Penix said.

Collins and Penix’s dad served as the pastor of the church for 40 years.

“I got married here. My children were baptized here. I was baptized here,” Collins said.

Last year, their dad suffered a stroke and passed away.

“That church was a symbol of him and a part of him and a part of him that we had left with us,” Penix said.

Saturday, they saw that symbol go up in flames.

“Watching that go was very emotional,” Penix said.

“I think I went through all the stages of grief,” Collins said.

As they look at what’s left, the burnt pages of scripture serve as a reminder that church is more than the pews and the steeple.

“It was the building and the church is the people. Our faith is strong because of what we learned there in that building,” Penix said.

They said together, they will rebuild.

“We have God with us and through him we can do anything,” Collins said.

According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it does not seem suspicious.

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