Fire destroys church; congregation plans to rebuild

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HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn. — One of three churches at the center of a possible serial arson attack held its first church service Sunday since the fire. Members of the historic Trinity United Methodist Church In Nutbush say the devastating loss of their worship home has brought them closer together both physically and spiritually. Pastor John Bonson said visiting the rubble left behind from the Wednesday fire is still incredibly difficult. “It’s just hard to believe that last Sunday morning I stepped out of that pulpit and drove home, and I’ll never be in it again. That hurts,” Bonson said. Sunday morning, the congregation gathered for their first worship service since the devastating fire Wednesday morning. Bonson said members are using their personal homes to bring people together and get through the grief. “There will come a time that, if this was set, that they will forgive the person and move toward reconciliation. We talked about that this morning,” Bonson said. Members said they will have to start at ground zero to repair the damage left behind, but they plan to come back stronger. “We have kindly gotten together a little bit and we will definitely rebuild, and we want to be bigger and better,” said Terry Parks, chair of trustees at the church. Members said it is too early for concrete plans for how they will rebuild but said they might try to save some of the bricks to build a memorial. Bonson says he’s amazed by the amount of support he’s seen during the aftermath. “I’ve had texts and posts and calls from as far away as the Philippines and Africa,” Bonson said. The ATF said it still doesn’t know the official cause of the fire. Crews were still on scene investigating Sunday. Debris has been sent to a lab in Atlanta for testing, according to a release from the ATF.

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