Congregation picking up the pieces after fire destroys Amelia church

AMELIA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A devasting fire at a church in Amelia County has left a community heartbroken and trying to figure out how to move forward without a place of worship.

The aftermath of the fire left smoke still rising into the air, bricks pilled on the ground and the “Promise Land Baptist Church” sign that was once stood tall now collapsed into the rubble on Tuesday afternoon. 

“I really was shocked to just to see that. So much damage was done, the church was a total loss,” Pastor of Promise Land Baptist Church, Lonnie Johnson, said.  

Johnson said all he could think about in the aftermath of the fire were the elderly members who will now no longer have a place to go.   

“I know that they want the house to have fellowship coming this Sunday. So therefore, all the officers of the church, we have to get together and find somewhere in the neighborhood where it will be close by and that they may continue to keep on serving the Lord,” Johnson said.

Firefighters responded to 11141 Winterham Road at around 1:54 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5 and fought the blaze for several hours until it was marked under control at around 7:40 a.m., according to a spokesperson for the Amelia County Volunteer Fire Department. 

At around 5:50 p.m., the fire reignited and crews were called back to the scene to extinguish the blaze. Officials said that the fire was a “total loss” but no injuries have been reported.

“It’s like a dream. When we received the call, like I said, it was unbelievable,” Pastor Johnson’s wife, Ellen Johnson, said. “We just thank God this didn’t happen on a Sunday and we weren’t in the building and no one got hurt.”

Both Pastor Johnson and his wife said they have gotten an overwhelming amount of support from the community, with calls coming in nonstop from people offering to help. Some are even offering up space for them to worship this coming Sunday as they work to start rebuilding.   

“No matter what, crises happen. It’s so good to know that people will do anything to help you,” Johnson said. “We know this will take some time, but with the Lord’s help I know that we will be successful in the end.”

The cause of the fire is not yet known, according to the Sheriff’s Office. 

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