Next steps for Morningstar Baptist Church after fire rips through

Flames and smoke shot out of Morningstar Baptist Church Friday afternoon. But through the charred wood and ashes, they were still able to have church Sunday.

How does one pastor a church after that church has been burnt? What do you tell your congregation?

Dwight Williams is the pastor now put into this difficult situation. “God allows some things to happen and some things God just lets happen, and often we don’t understand exactly why until we have the hindsight,” Williams said.

Williams is the interim pastor at Morningstar Baptist Church. Friday, a fire consumed the roof and charred everything else inside the church. It’s been here for 60 years.

The pastor knew his people needed to gather together Sunday.

“We have ladies in the church whose husbands helped build the building, and their husbands have passed,” he said. “When they were in the building, they felt a connection to their husbands, and you have to honor that.”

Pastor Williams also had something else to honor, not just the building but the people.

He’s honored hope. He had to give hope to his congregation.

“If we just sat there and looked defeated, they’d be defeated. But we’ve prepared everything. God has his ways, and they’ve put us in this position to walk through this with Him,” Williams said.

“I’m confident this has occurred, which looks like a tragedy right now, but we’re going to be blessed by this,” he said.

Williams believes those blessings will come in bunches. “Crossroads Baptist church has helped us move the freezers for the food pantry. They came and helped with the cleanup, basically did the cleanup. Our sound system we used Sunday came from
Fort Myers Community Church,” he said. “I got a text from [Next Level Church]. He says, so far, we have this amount of donations, and they’re still coming in.”

Those offers of help have continued to pour in. “Yes, I’ve been to your church, can I call you right back? I’m being interviewed by the news right now,” Pastor Williams said.

Pastor Williams’ people still have a place to pray. The worship hall was spared by the flames and will become their new church. What’s left of the burnt building will come down.

“My personal goal is, if the concrete slab is in good shape, we’ll put some basketball goals out there, and the community can have a playground,” Williams said.

For Pastor Williams, his church is about his people, not the building it’s held in.

“By the time we left Sunday, everyone was still praising God,” he said.

The people of this church are still counting their blessings and continuing their missions.

“We’re feeding 140 families a month,” he said. “People are still hungry. This had nothing to do with, and again, God spared this part of the building.”

Another blessing? The church’s food bank is still intact. “You’ve seen them, 91-year-old people working in our food pantry, 81-year-old people,” he said.

Dwight Williams may have lost his church, but he did not and will never lose his faith in God or in his city.

“God loves Fort Myers,” Williams said.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Drew Hill
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