June 28--A major fire broke out at Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church Friday evening.
Several church congregants and pastors stood across the 1600 block of East Murphy Street, watching as their church's roof became engulfed in flames.
"Our faith is not in this building but what we're weeping about it this experience, this building was a place that we gathered, we worshipped together in this place," Pastor Donald Flinn said. "This place is not our faith but it's our memories that we weep. No one wants to see something they cherish become engulfed in flames."
The fire broke out at about 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Pastor Flinn said the church celebrated their 63rd anniversary June 22, and the building on Murphy Street was built in 1985. The pastor and other church officials were at the building a few hours before the fire broke out in a meeting for their summer reading program, which was set to start Monday.
The choir director for the church said he grew up with the congregation. "This is one of the few African-American churches in the southside of Odessa," he said. "For some people this is their only home."
At about 9:38 p.m., rain started falling as the flames diminished and the smoke grew thicker. Odessa Fire/Rescue Chief Roger Boyd arrived at the scene at about 9:35 p.m.
Congregants became emotional as they watched part of the roof collapse, and comforted one another.
The cause of the fire was not yet known as of 9 p.m., but church officials said they believed it might be electrical.
Contact Audris Ponce at 432-333-7782.
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