Church destroyed by fire reopens in time for Palm Sunday

Walterboro church reopens after fire
May 13, 2011
May 13, 2011

WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - Burned to the ground in a massive fire, the doors of the Great Swamp Baptist Church were reopened just in time for Palm Sunday.

"It's just great to be home," said Pastor Jack Padgett.

For the first time in nearly 2 years, members of the Walterboro church attended service in a building they can now call their own.

Padgett said, "It's not a new beginning for us, it's just a continuation. The building is new, that's true but the church has been here for over 130 years."

Thrown into limbo after the Walterboro landmark was destroyed by a fire, the congregation of 225 members still found a way to hold services.

"We met in the picnic shed outside and over in the Methodist church. Over the last 22 months we have just been bouncing around," said Padgett.

The new church cost a million dollars, but they only started with half the money needed. Members came up with the rest through fundraisers and community support.

"Everybody has been just super helpful in everything that we've needed and it's been taken care of," said Padgett.

Recalling the night of the fire, Padgett said he couldn't believe his eyes; the entire building was engulfed in flames.

"Somebody asked me how to explain it and it's almost like having a death. It affected so many people and it was so hurtful," said Padgett.

Although it was total loss, church members were able to save the pulpit furniture and a couple of signs.

"We are going to continue to do what we've done in the past and that's to reach out and visit people and help people become to know Christ. That's what we've been called to do," said Padgett.

There will be an official dedication service for the new building on May 19th.

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