In March 2000 the historic First Baptist Church went up in flames in Floydada. The the fire marshal's office officially ruled the cause of the fire as undetermined but it was more than likely electrical. So, more than three years later, Whatever Happened to the First Baptist Church of Floydada and its almost 600 member congregation?
This community shed a lot of tears the night of the fire, but they also experienced a sense of unity after the fire. From the ashes, the church has risen again, now standing as a proud symbol of what a community can accomplish when it unites.
Floydada cotton farmer A.C. Pratt has been a member of the First Baptist church for 60 years. And on March 12, 2000 the church broke his heart. "I was out of town, so I was sort of glad for that," says Pratt.
But other members like Don Gowens were here that night, and watched in agony as 50 foot flames shot out the roof of the church. "At one time, the fire department thought they had it under control, but the flames had crawled up the north wall and it was a losing battle all the way after that," says Gowens.
In the end, the fire had severely damaged the sanctuary and destroyed Sunday school classrooms, the fellowship hall, music and choir rooms and the kitchen. But the fire couldn't damage faith. JenniSu Smith says as the fire ripped through the church, a large crowd gathered in the parking lot, clasped hands and prayed.
"And as tragic as that was, it was also beautiful," says Smith.
By the following morning, there was an outpouring of support from all across the South Plains, as the First Baptist began the long process of rebuilding, and tried to keep a positive outlook. "God has a reason for everything he does," says Smith.
Today, the First Baptist is whole once again. The sanctuary survived the fire but has been refurbished. Most everything else is brand new. From the 8,000 book library, to the nursery, to the kitchen and to the enormous multi-purpose fellowship hall. Smith, who's had to overcome obstacles in her personal life with Multiple Sclerosis, says this church serves as an inspiration to the entire area.
And these members say it couldn't have been done without the help of a community. The new building was designed by BGR architects out of Lubbock. It took three years to demolish the old building and rebuild the new one. While the congregation was out of its church, it used the Floydada High School for Sunday services.