On Jan. 19, 2010, the congregation of First Baptist Church Temple stood shocked on a still Tuesday morning as smoke billowed out from behind the remnants of the castle-like white pillars of their historic sanctuary.
Now, almost one year later, it is evident that they have risen from the ashes.
Provision is one thing that Pastor Dr. Martin Knox points out as having seen a lot of in the past year.
“We’ve grown spiritually in seeing God’s provisions in a variety of ways,” Knox said. “We’ve seen God meet needs. … God’s provided the right things at the right time, and we’ve learned a lot about trusting God with those things.”
Before the fire struck, the church had purchased property off of 2305 and Pea Ridge Road, an area closer to some of the newer residential areas of Belton and Temple.
Instead of hindering the church’s move there, the blaze actually sped up the process, with the contemporary service now held there on Sundays.
“The West campus is an opportunity to meet in the neighborhoods near the property that we own so that we can begin serving that area before we just build a building,” Knox said.
While still maintaining the more traditional services in downtown Temple, they are also holding the West service at 9:30 a.m. and life groups at 11 a.m. on Sundays at Pirtle Elementary, and they are looking forward to reaching new areas of town with a new style of praise.
“The West campus is being led by a full worship band. The style of worship is different and it was begun by folks who made a commitment to move there,” Knox said.
He is also hoping that the new location will be a great fit for UMHB students because of the style and a few other perks.
“The worship band is made up of UMHB students. We also have free coffee on Sundays, so that’s always nice for college students to have,” he said.
The church is working on a master plan for a building on the property, estimating construction to start by the end of this year.
“The congregation realized that our church was not just a building. It was truly a group of believers. No matter where we met, we are still the church,” member Cheryl Jones said. “Many stepped out of their comfort zones and learned to do church a whole new way.”
Several churches, both local and far away, stepped up to support First Baptist in its time of need.
A congregation farther away particularly stirred Jones’ heart.
She said, “The most touching was a church we help every summer in New England that struggles financially; they sent us a check to help.”
Junior music major Nick Arbuckle leads worship with his band Roosevelt for the contemporary service at Pirtle Elementary and hopes to see more students at the church.
“As a UMHB student to be a part of FBC’s church could definitely open up opportunities for service and leadership in a new growing area,” he said. “Our hopes and prayers are to be an effective part of the Temple community and to be a church that truly desires God’s heart.”