MARYLAND: Fire Destroys Adventist
ixty firefighters struggled for more than two hours to douse a fire that destroyed the sanctuary of the Baltimore First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ellicott City on Thursday evening, June 1. According to Ben Boggess, pastor of the 340-member congregation, the blaze broke out on the roof of the building shortly after a severe lightning storm passed through the area.
“I heard a really loud crack and thought, Well, the lightning rods are doing their job,” said Boggess, who was in the sanctuary at the time but left soon after. “Half an hour later, flames were seen coming out of the roof.”
A graduation ceremony for kindergartners at the Crossroads Adventist School had been held in the church sanctuary that evening, but ended before the fire started. The sanctuary was destroyed, but no injuries were reported.
“The church members are of good courage—we’re moving forward,” said Boggess. “We met in the fellowship hall for church services on Sabbath and the room was packed. We had a good service of praise and worship.”
A symbol of encouragement to the members is a large wooden cross that hung on the wall at the front of the sanctuary. Even though the roof above the cross and the frame behind it burned, the cross was untouched by the flames, said Boggess’s wife, Marvel. “A steady stream of cars—four or five a minute—came by the church on Sabbath,” she said. “The people seemed to want to take a look at the cross.”
Boggess noted that one young 15-year-old church member evidenced the positive attitude by wearing a T-shirt during the weekend that read, “Baltimore First Church—The Cross Still Stands.”
Adventist Risk Management, the church’s insurance company, has not yet determined a total damage estimate. —AR.