LaFollette church reopens in new building after arson

LaFollette church reopens in new building after arson

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Nearly eight months later, members of the congregation held their first service Saturday evening in their new building. Nearly eight months later, members of the congregation held their first service Saturday evening in their new building.
"It's been a battle, but it's been a good battle.  It's pulled the church closer together, we call it our joy," said Pastor Mike Smith. "It's been a battle, but it's been a good battle. It's pulled the church closer together, we call it our joy," said Pastor Mike Smith.
A surviving Bible and table from the fire are on display in the church's foyer. A surviving Bible and table from the fire are on display in the church's foyer.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

LAFOLLETTE (WATE) -  Members of a Campbell County congregation are ready for a new chapter, after a fire destroyed their church in December.

Fincastle Church of God in LaFollette burned down in the early morning hours of December 9th.

State fire investigators determined it was arson just a few days later.

Nearly eight months later, members of the congregation held their first service Saturday evening in their new building.  

Many church members were overcome with emotion, realizing their new sanctuary is a reality.  

"It's a joy. It's bringing back the memories we've always had," said LaBonne Meade, a Fincastle Church of God member for 20 years. 

Close to two dozen pastors, many of whom were former pastors at the Fincastle Church of God, spoke at the church's first ceremony on Saturday. 

Many say the new building has made the church more united.  

"It's been a battle, but it's been a good battle.  It's pulled the church closer together, we call it our joy," said Pastor Mike Smith.                                                     

The newly constructed church is larger than the old; there are more seats in the sanctuary.

More than anything--- it brings the church out of a dark period. 

The old church building, built in 1979 was set on fire right before the winter holiday.  

Ever since it happened, services have been held in a nearby school.

"It's been a hard fought battle, when our church burned, it was right before Christmas, and we were looking forward to having our Christmas dinner the next day," said Pastor Mike Smith.  

A surviving Bible and table from the fire are on display in the church's foyer. The Bible belonged to Janet Kitts, a gift originally from her father.  

The Bible was discovered opened to a page with a verse from "Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, A Time for Everything," which reads "a time to tear down, and a time to build up."  

"I think the Lord spoke to us through that message, I feel that was the Lord speaking to us that we would rebuild and have this beautiful church," said Janet Kitts.  

One important thing the new building has is a security system. Any security footage could have aided the investigation, since to this day--- nobody knows who committed the arson.

The construction was completed on schedule.  Insurance covered a little more than half the cost to rebuild the church. 

Fincastle owes a remainder of $170,000 to the bank. 

Donations can be made to the church through First Community Trust Bank in LaFollette.

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