Cleanup begins at historic Mt. Pleasant church after fire ravages ministry center

St. Andrew's Church fire cleanup (WCIV)

Caution tape outside a house of worship in Mt. Pleasant replaces the warm embrace of worshippers. St. Andrews Church on Whilden Street is where pre-school teachers pick up boxes of belongings.

Sunday morning's massive fire in the ministry center destroyed the roof and much of the inside.

Gerald Venning of Hill Construction Company is one of the workers doing what he can to stabilize the building and protect what's left.

"Just filling up sandbags so the water doesn't go into the basement," Venning said.

As the restoration work begins at St. Andrews, members of the church's Bible study group say this tragedy hasn't weakened their faith.

"Heartbreaking. Very sad," said Jan Truesdale, choking back tears.

As a volunteer and head of the church library, she joined St. Andrews in 1989 and remembers when it expanded in the early 1990s.

"There was a large tree on the property which had to be cut down to make space for the new building. And the cross was made from the wood of that tree. The cross that hangs in the ministry center now," she said.

While the ministry center was ravaged by fierce flames, the symbol of Christ was saved. It can be seen among the ruins.

"That to us is just a word from the Lord that he is with us no matter what goes on," she said.

As restoration specialists survey the damage, church members like Jan Truesdale count their blessings.

"The building will be replaced. But that's okay. It'll be bigger and better," she said.

A church official tells us an expansion project for the ministry center was scheduled to begin Monday. Instead, a large cleanup operation has started.

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