Members, who live near the church, were getting ready for Sunday school at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Harris Circle when the church caught fire.
The original 911 call of smoke coming from the back of the church came in at 9:29 a.m. from a neighbor of the church. Dora Police Officer Adam Smalley was the first responder to the scene and said the back wall was fully engulfed in flames when he arrived at 9:34.
No one was inside the building when it caught fire, but many church and community members arrived and watched as fire fighters battled the flames.
Members, like church clerk Joyce Gosha who said she has never gone to church anywhere else. She was raised in the church on the hill and has been a member there her entire life, raising her children in the church.
“This is just so hard,” Gosha said.
Dora and Sumiton fire fighters battled the blaze for hours, but the old church was a total loss.
Church members said the fire marshal told them a gas leak from a gas heater in the back was likely the cause of the fire, and arson is not suspected at this time. They are expected to meet this morning to discuss the future of the congregation, which they said had less than 20 members. The members also said the building was not insured.
Dora Police and Fire departments responded to the scene. Sumiton Police and Fire departments also responded to the call for mutual aid.