Knoxville Church Finding Pieces Of Hope

Knoxville (WVLT) - There are only about a dozen members that attend Tennessee Avenue Baptist Church on a regular basis.

On Thursday, everyone of them stopped by to pray together and reflect on everything they've lost.

But as Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud shows us, they ended up finding little pieces of hope that show a lot still remains.

Former member, Jack McClain says, "A lot of memories went up in smoke there."

A sanctuary that once welcomed all, is now blocked off with yellow tape.

Investigators search for reasons why the fire started from inside, while members past and present stand from behind, staring in disbelief at a scene that's simply heartbreaking.

"That third pew. That pew was my families pew."

Charred remains, but clear memories, that go back generations for Jack McClain.

"I was baptized her in that corner right there. My wife was baptized here. When my son was nine, he accepted the Lord here and was baptized here."

Same story for Julia Mayes. This is where she's worshiped her entire life.

So to see the doors her great-grandparents once walked through 77 years ago, now only a blackened frame, is almost too much to handle.

"It's really hard."

But within the piles of crumpled brick, the spirit of this small church body remains.

Be it a shadow of a cross cast down on a caved in roof, or a piano and a few pews destroyed, but still standing.

Within every ash, parishioners see signs of hope.

Amongst the greatest, a bible, left mostly in tact.

Interim Pastor, Johnny Gray says, "Only God's word can endure a fire like this and be left like this."

To them, it's proof God's word withstands and much more than irony that scripture will now permanently be turned to the book of Job.

Gray says, "Job lost everything. He lost his family, his farm, his cattle, his children."

A reminder for them to do just as Job and keep faith, even though everything around them, has caved in.

Gray says, "It could be in days to come, but we're going to rejoice. Gods grace is sufficient. He is going to strengthen us and we're going on."

Church members tell us they will have service Sunday even if it's in the church's parking lot.

But since the fellowship hall only has water damage, they hope to have things cleaned enough to hold services inside.

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