Members of a Mississippi church are in mourning after a fire destroyed their historic sanctuary, but a 180-year-old Bible that weathered the blaze is bringing much-needed hope to the beleaguered congregation.
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College Hill Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Mississippi, built in 1844, has inspired Christians for nearly two centuries, but the historic building was left in what WATN-TV described as a “scene of complete devastation” after the Aug. 13 fire broke out.
The original pews, pulpits, and stained glass were completely destroyed during the tragic inferno, leaving church members in pain and mourning. But one item did endure: a Bible.
The historic Bible, dating back to the church’s founding, has been handed down and preached from throughout the church’s history, with dated inscriptions in the book’s margins telling part of its history.
While the holy book was usually kept open on a pulpit, someone closed it just hours before the fire, amazingly protecting it from potential destruction.
Watch this WATN-TV report for more on the Bible:
Church elder Doug Paul told WATN-TV the Bible’s survival has sent a profound message to the congregation.
“We are a Bible-believing church, and we believe that that is the word of God, and that is sustaining,” he said. “And so the idea that essentially nothing in this church survived but the word of God — that’s not lost on us.”
Paul said the church feels “heartbreak” and “hope,” as they recall God’s goodness.
“The first response on Sunday is heartbreak,” he said. “But there is just as much as there is a heartbreak, there’s also hope and a confidence that, if God protected us for the first 180 years, there’s no reason why we’re not going to build again and be protected for another 180.”
A similar message was posted on the College Hill Presbyterian Church website, with leaders lamenting the loss but looking toward God’s goodness.
“This historical building, constructed in 1844, was a significant part of our church’s rich history, and we are mourning its loss,” it reads. “However, College Hill Presbyterian Church is a body of believers, not a building. While we are devastated by the loss, we will continue to gather and unite with great hope and joy as a congregation to worship the Lord who has faithfully shepherded and loved this church for so long.”
The church gathered Aug. 20 for services in its education building, which was untouched by the fire. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Continue to pray for the congregation as it recovers from this tragic event.
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