Shortly after ten o’clock Sunday night, Rev. Brian Ridgedell received a knock on both the front and rear door of the David Haas Memorial United Methodist Church parsonage.
“Neighbors from across the street were knocking on the back door,” he said, “And one of the church members who happened to be driving by was knocking on the front door.”
As he rushed out, he quickly saw why they were knocking, “Smoke was just billowing out of every corner of the church.”
An all-night battle would ensue against a fire authorities believe started above the sanctuary. No one was hurt, but the sanctuary, fellowship hall, kitchen, office and the scout room appear to be a complete loss.
Rev. Ridgedell said, “There were fire crews from Bunkie on the scene along with crews from small towns I hadn’t even heard of.”
While firefighters battled the fire, Ridgedell focused on saving the parsonage.
“Neighbors and even some of the surrounding community church members showed up to help,” he said, “It was a true ‘coming together’ and one I will never forget.”
Ridgedell was able to remove most of his valuables and firefighters were able to save the parsonage but not the church.
“I really hurt for these church members,” he said, “But this congregation is resilient. Just yesterday, I remember telling them that church is the people, not the building.”
“We are devastated to hear the news of the fire at David Haas United Methodist Church in Bunkie. We are grateful no one was hurt and now pray for the faithful community who faces the loss of their sanctuary and fellowship Hall.” Said, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. “I am reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior”
Bishop Harvey added, “While fires consume our buildings, the commitment to our mission cannot be consumed. I trust that the faithful followers of Jesus Christ in the Bunkie community will continue to be a beacon of hope even in the midst of loss.”
Members of David Haas Memorial United Methodist Church have recently been living out that call.
Just last month, ladies of the church came together to support Mission Project Opportunity.
Almost 200 personal hygiene items were purchased, assembled and donated to school age girls and young women in impoverished areas of Africa.
“This is an amazing church and we will
move forward,” said. Ridgedell. “I know we serve a good God and a powerful God and because of that, we will carry on the mission. I am just not sure what that will look like, but I have confidence all will be well.”
Photos courtesy: Angell Duplechain