RANGER — Wendy Rodgers, song leader for Second Baptist Church in Ranger, doesn’t believe the church’s hymn is over, even after a fire ripped through the historic building on Thursday.
The church, which had shrunk to a congregation of five, had begun to grow again, reaching an attendance of 10 to 15 people in recent weeks, she said.
“We had people telling us to close our doors, and we said God wasn’t done with us,” Rodgers said. “We felt like he wanted us to keep going. And we did, and we grew.”
Several burned buildings
The fire spread to four buildings in town, including the church and a former police station behind it, as well as a courtyard between the station and the church, Rodgers said.
Rodgers said the community fire chief said a fire pit or barbecue may have been the cause, causing damage to several separate structures from the massive fire at the Eastland complex several miles to the south -Where is. Those fires continued to burn tens of thousands of acres through Friday.
Online video posted to Facebook Thursday by Eastland County Today and others captured several of the Rangers fires, including the church engulfed in flames.
Friday noon, firefighters were still putting water on the church to prevent it from reigniting.
The historic building is likely a total loss, Rodgers said.
The church building was built by the T&P Oil Company and completed in 1919, but was never occupied by the builder, according to a church history shared by Rodgers.
In 1920 the property became the Theodor Hotel, and in 1925 it was the Central Baptist Church until the early 1930s.
In 1938 Calvary Baptist Church opened in the building, while in September 1940 the name was changed – after a vote – to Second Baptist Church, with the motto “Second to None”.
Do not abandon
The church posted on its Facebook page Thursday evening that “Satan has hit us hard but we are still standing.”
“I’m bringing a lawn chair on Sunday and I’m still going to serve GOD,” the post said, adding, “The people are the church. Not the building.”
Rodgers said there were plans to discuss what the congregation planned to do on Sunday, but added that in typical small-town hospitality, several area churches quickly stepped up to offer space to meet.
“That’s the great thing about small towns – we stick together and we’re there for each other,” she said.
Doctrinal differences dissolve in the wake of need, she said, especially among local ministry alliance churches.
“We’ve always been there for each other, and they’re there for us now,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing, and that’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Rodgers’ husband is the pianist and church secretary, while her minister, Wade Berry, is legally blind but travels from Fort Worth to preach, she said.
Even without a building to meet in, Rodgers said the guests promised to come on Sunday.
“I think Satan wants to knock us down because we were starting to grow again,” she said. “…But I don’t think God is done with us. He has a plan.”
Brian Bethel covers city and county government and general news for Abilene Reporter-News. If you enjoy local news, you can support local reporters with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.