Allegan Co. Congregation Devastated By Church Fire

Posted at 10:17 PM, Feb 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-17 22:36:50-05

HAMILTON, Mich. (Feb. 17, 2014) – A community in Allegan County is devastated after the Antioch Fellowship Church burned to the ground Monday.

The flames broke out around noon and burned well into the evening.

No one was hurt, but tonight the pastor and members of that congregation are still trying to comprehend the loss.

Norma Garza and Craig Kundtz planned to be married at the church in May.  They have time to find another venue, but the couple who planned their wedding at the church on Saturday don’t.

The couple searched through the rubble of the church for anything they could salvage while the flames continued burning the dilapidated debris.

“We’ve got 30 years into this church and this is definitely devastating right now,” Pastor Ron Lancaster said.

Investigators believe the fire sparked from a faulty furnace.  They say someone was working on it, and left to buy parts around noon.  That’s when the building caught fire.

“I was here earlier when it was engulfed in flames and the fire department was here, but in all honesty I went back home because I couldn’t stand to stand here and watch it burn,” Lancaster said.

Right now, they’re looking for a temporary place to hold service for the 30-plus members of their congregation.

Lancaster said the church’s mission is to reach people in the community that may not be comfortable in other churches.  He says they even gather members from the county jail.

The church plans to rebuild, and the insurance company has already been out to file their claim.  But, the real tragedy lies in the things that can’t be replaced like the cross lost in the fire that had been passed along from Lancaster’s father-in-law.

The congregation is meeting Sunday to discuss possible options for rebuilding.