James Island church destroyed in fire to celebrate new steeple installation

Church leaders are holding a community event Wednesday to celebrate getting a new steeple installed.
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 5:00 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2023 at 8:25 AM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Nearly two years after a church on James Island was destroyed in a devastating fire, church leaders are holding a community event Wednesday to celebrate getting a new steeple installed.

“This is just a moment to celebrate what God has done over the past 2 years. The steeple is almost like a beacon to the community like, ‘Hey we’re still here, we’re still here to help, we’re still here to help bring hope,” Pastor Marty Middleton says.

The steeple celebration at Fort Johnson Baptist Church on Camp Road begins at 6:30 p.m. There will be music, snow cones, bounce castles, a slide show of the reconstruction process and more.

Lightning struck the steeple in September of 2021, which smoldered overnight until huge flames engulfed the structure, Middleton says. What the fire didn’t destroy, he tells us, smoke and water from the firehoses did.

The steeple collapsed into the sanctuary, with insulation, beams, roofing and other debris tumbling onto the pews and littering the aisles. The classroom space behind the sanctuary was also destroyed, Middleton says.

The sanctuary itself is still under construction and is set to be finished this fall, and the new classrooms behind the sanctuary are finished, allowing preschoolers to enjoy the new facilities when school starts there next week.

With the new steeple set to be installed Wednesday, the whole story will be brought full circle since it was what first caught fire.

“The steeple’s being raised throughout the day today, and tonight hopefully everything will be on the roof and we’ll be able to see and celebrate what God’s done over the past 2 years,” Middleton says. “A lot of times you go through a hard time and it can be difficult, but we want to focus on the positive things that have happened.”

Despite insurance and previous donations to the church, they are about $1.5 million short on funds for the renovation and reconstruction because of required code upgrades and limits on insurance, Middleton says.

“To go through a process like this and end up with $1.5 million of debt is going to be disheartening for our people,” he says. “If there’s a way people want to give or pray or coming out to support what we’re doing right here, that would be greatly appreciated.”

If you would like to learn more information about the renovation or to donate, visit fjbc.net/give