Church moves on after fire

WHEELING — Faith Community Church is without a building to hold services since the former Sacred Heart Church that it was using was consumed by fire last week.

“It was a beautiful church that held a lot of memories for the Wheeling community,” said Charmaine Hand, 48, of Elm Grove.

Hand said she had been attending Sunday services at Faith Community Church for the past 10 years.

The church has more than 100 members and is affiliated with 21 churches in the Upper Ohio Valley Baptist Association, said Pastor Peter Carney.

Ray Stocke was one of the first members. Stocke said he was in shock when the building at 99 Main St. was gutted by fire Saturday.

“I sat across the street on the steps (during the fire) and couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It seemed so bad, but we will survive.”

Stocke said the church did not have rental insurance and it lost 90 percent of its supplies, including technical equipment; the public address system; and hymnals.

“We are starting all over again,” he said.

For the immediate future, Carney said the church will hold services outside on property that it owns adjacent to Wilson Park, as it did Sunday.

If it is raining, the church has permission to use the Riverview Towers’ community room, he said.

Carney also said he is grateful for the donations the church has received from other Baptist churches in their association.

Hand said that Faith Community Church was opened by missionaries from Texas in 2008 because there was only one other church at the time in North Wheeling.

“We need to continue to provide a safe haven for adults and children to know Christ, especially since in this community, there is a strong need,” she said.

Hand said the majority of the congregation is made up of children and that many walk there themselves.

“We have a pair of twins that are teenagers now that have been coming since the church opened, so you know how little they were to start,” she said.

Hand said the church has a positive outlook on growth because of the large number of children attending. She said she will continue to attend outdoor church services.

“God really lifted the pastor up last Sunday,” she said. “It was the best sermon I have heard and I have gone there forever.”

Stocke agreed.

“We can’t give up,” he said. “We got to keep pushing forward. The preacher tells us that all the time.”

Carney said the church has plans to build a new church on the property where it is holding services.

“What Satan intends for evil, God turns into good,” said Carney.

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