Fire Destroys “Smallest Church”

| November 29, 2015

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DARRIEN — The historic church affectionately known as “The Smallest Church in America” suffered catastrophic damage in a fire late Friday night.

The McIntosh County Fire Department received a 911 call around 1 a.m. Saturday morning stating that the church was on fire. The entire church was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. It only took a few minutes to put the fire out, but the church is a total loss.

“It is very special and means a lot to a lot of people,” said Toni Miller, who was married at the church back in 1998. “I have been coming to this church since I came to this area. I was married here in 1998 on New Year’s Day. My husband Wayne built the bell tower and we put it up before we got married.”

The church was constructed in 1949, and represented a dream come true for Mrs. Anges Harper, a local grocer. She wanted the chapel to serve as a place of meditation and rest for weary travelers.

“Every time you come there is people from all over the world here. We sing and we pray and we fellowship with one another,” said Dorah Simmons, a resident of McIntosh County.

“My sister said this is where she is going to get married in May. The guy called this morning and said the place burned down so you may need to find another place,” said Robert Schuchman.

Investigators say the fire is very suspicious and the State Fire Marshal’s Office will arrive on Monday to investigate.

A group of concerned community members gathered at the church in shock on Saturday evening.

“You think the worst of people instead of the best of people. This is about the best of you and what you can get out of this world and someone is always trying to take that away. It just makes me mad,” said Schuchman.

“I am in shock and awe that someone could have done this. Someone destroyed this church that has brought such peace and God’s presence to so many,” said Moeller.

Many hope the church is rebuilt.

“I really believe that we will rebuild this church in McIntosh County,” said Simmons.

WTOC

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