JAX church loses sanctuary in March 1 blaze
Mar 7, 2012
By STAFF

SURVIVED A white large pulpit Bible was still in pristine condition after a late evening fire in the sancturay of New Berlin Road Baptist Church in Jacksonville destroyed everything around it, Pastor Matthew Meadows said. Courtesy photo
JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—The sanctuary of New Berlin Road Baptist Church in north Jacksonville was heavily damaged by a late evening fire March 1. Pastor Matthew Meadows told Florida Baptist Witness the blaze and loss are reminding him and his congregation of God’s provision and Christians’ generosity.

“You really don’t know how ‘rich’ you are until something like this happens. Other churches and pastors have offered to help in all kinds of ways,” he said.

Meadows said he had been told the blaze began in a wall adjacent to the sound booth, and was likely caused by “a power pole issue in front of the church.”

The sanctuary interior is a total loss, including furniture and audio visual equipment, but even firemen exiting the building were talking about the large white pulpit Bible that seemed untouched by the fire, Meadows said. The pristine Bible was the focus of several local news reports on the fire.

“When you walk into the room, everything is black, but the Bible stands out. Everything on that table melted, but God’s Word is still as white as a sheet of cotton,” he said. 

About 20 hours after the fire, Meadows was awaiting word from a piano technician on the fate of a 100-year-old grand piano that was moved to the New Berlin Road location when the former Main Street Baptist Church became New Berlin Baptist.

He said church leadership is “already in prayer about what our insurance will take care of” in the estimated $600,000 loss.

Meadows is thankful the blaze 

occurred on Thursday evening instead of Wednesday evening when the church was “full of people,” and he said “everything was normal” in the church when he left the building about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The church met at its usual time Sunday, March 4, in a tent beside the damaged building. Although attempts will be made to make the ser­vices as normal as possible, Meadows said he will have a sermon illustration in sight of the congregation. “The church will hear about God’s provision. It will not be about the things we lost, but about the sovereign God we serve,” he said. 

Donations may be made to an account in the church’s name at any Regions Bank location.

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