First brick church in Winder destroyed

7:24 PM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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The Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit in Winder

WINDER, Ga. -- Pastor Phillip Adair and his congregation watched in awe as the church they had spent seven years trying to rebuild, crumbled to the ground in a day.  A fire, possibly sparked by lightning, ripped through the church leaving only a brick shell Friday morning.

Firefighters recommended knocking down the remaining walls now, to avoid damage later.  They were concerned strong winds would cause them to fall on to nearby homes or pedestrians in the area. 

Rob Glenn, who was staying with his mother in an apartment next to the church said he was told to stay out of his unit until the work was done.  "No one got hurt, thank God.  But no one needs to get hurt," said Glenn reflecting back on the fire. 

"I looked outside and I'm just flooded by smoke and there's just flames," Glenn added.

"When it exploded witnesses say the stained glass came out and all the sudden got sucked back into the building," said the pastor's son, Sean Adair.

The church building is more than 100 years old and Adair says only days away from demolition when he agreed to remodel it.  For the past seven years, Adair and the members of Sancturary of the Holy Spirit have slowly worked to fix the stained glass windows, roof, and floors.

The church believes the hard pine that made up the bones of the historic church allowed the fire to burn throught he building so fast.

"It had turpentine in it. And when we would cut it you could smell the turpentine," said Sean Adair.

"It breaks your heart," said church member Edgar Fussell. "We had just put so much into it, and we love the church so much and everything. It was where we was always going to go to church."

Pastor Adair plans to meet with his congregation at a members house Friday night to decide what to do next.  He says at least one other church has offered them temporary space to hold services but for now, Adair isn't convinced it makes sense to rebuild.

"We've spent seven years here and seven is God's number for completion so maybe that has something to do with it," said Adair.

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