The sanctuary at Advent United Methodist Church in Simpsonville was destroyed by fire on Wednesday, Feb. 8.
The structure was under renovation, and no one was injured by the blaze. Initial reports indicate a previous fire sparked during construction work was believed to have been put out, but it apparently rekindled while workers were on a lunch break.
Advent UMC already had been holding services in its gym since the renovation began, and Sunday services are expected to go on as scheduled.
Pastor Michael Turner has asked everyone to stay away until the area is declared safe. The church will notify its members when that is the case.
Turner posted this statement on Facebook late Wednesday night:
Dear Advent Family,
Obviously, today has been hard. I’m sure that all of you have already seen on the news that our sanctuary caught fire today during construction. We are thankful that all of the Hope Academy children, faculty, and staff, along with Advent staff, construction crews, and emergency personnel are all safe and there are no injuries to report.
It was excruciating to watch helplessly as our beloved sanctuary burned. Firefighters from four different fire departments fought valiantly, but the fire was too hot and spread too rapidly to contain. It is heartbreaking, because this is the space in which we have worshiped our Triune God for sixteen years.
In that space, countless people have been baptized, hundreds of students have been confirmed, missioners have been commissioned, couples have been married, and we have celebrated the lives of our saints who finished their course on this earth. It was a special place because of the memories made, the people who gathered, and the Living God who always met us there.
Our sanctuary burned, but, make no mistake, the Church is as strong as ever. I saw it today in the faces of church members who gathered in the parking lot. Some brought food and water. Others cried. Many embraced each other and me. All had a quiet confidence that God is with us, and we will overcome this together.
Tomorrow (Thursday), the Education Building will be closed as a company works to remove the smoke smell and clean-up the water damage. Our goal is to be fully operational by Sunday. We will gather for worship in the gym, as normal on Sunday.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to be together.
Tomorrow (Thursday) night we will gather for a prayer service in the gym at 7 p.m. In the meantime, I want to reiterate the words of Frederick Buechner from this past Sunday, “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.” The same God who raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us, and we will conquer in his name!
What can you do to help?
For now, the church is requesting prayers. Please do not go to the church or send anything. Updates will be passed along as more information is available.