BUFFALO - Members of St. Luke Baptist Church are on their way to having a new sanctuary.
The congregation held a groundbreaking Saturday morning for a 10,700 square foot building to replace the 104-year-old church that was destroyed by fire on Oct. 7, 2007.
“Everyone at the church is glad progress is underway,” said Harold Thompson, who is chairman of the rebuilding committee. “We have been meeting at the Pacolet River (Baptist Association) building and we appreciate them allowing us to use the building in our time of need. We hope pretty soon to be in our building and be home.”
Thompson said only a few papers that were stored in a fireproof box at the church survived the fire.
The new church is being constructed by Metal Builders Inc. of Spartanburg at a cost of just under $1 million. Thompson said the church is expected to be completed in around eight months. The sanctuary will seat around 300 and the building will be equipped with a state of the art fire alarm and sprinkler system. It will include a baptismal, a fellowship hall, approximately six classrooms, a nursery and restrooms
Arson initially was suspected in the fire that destroyed the church. An investigation that involved the Union County Sheriff's Office, the Buffalo Fire Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms determined the fire was accidental and started in the roof near a heating unit.
The church has fire insurance, but financial donations are being accepted from the public to help cover additional costs.
“We surely thank everyone who has made a donation, from Mrs. Vicki Morgan who was one of the first; even as the building was still smoldering and burning she initiated a fund drive the next day,” said Thompson, a WSPA TV cameraman who serves on Union City Council. “We thank the City of Union, the County of Union, the Buffalo Fire Department, everyone who came out and offered condolences and showed they cared.”
(Donations may be made to the St. Luke Baptist Church Rebuilding Fund Account, care of Arthur State Bank, P.O. Box 769, Union, 29379.)