Briar Creek Road Baptist Sunday service
Yellow caution tape and a sign that read “Keep Out” greeted visitors to Briar Creek Road Baptist Church on Sunday.
But worshipers held a rousing and emotion-filled service inside the east Charlotte church just four days after an arson fire damaged the building.
As speakers and songs exhorted them to stay strong, some crowd members burst into tears, and others shouted praise. One man walked down the aisle, touching each pew and repeatedly muttering to himself, “Thank you, Jesus.”
“God is getting ready to flip the script,” said the Rev. Kim Ware, a guest minister who gave the sermon. “You’re going to rise up with a new boldness. You’re going to take back everything he took from you. The scent of revival is in the air.”
The church, near Bojangles’ Coliseum, suffered heavy damage after someone intentionally set a fire and flames erupted early Wednesday morning. A part of the church used as an education wing was nearly destroyed.
Other parts of the campus, including the sanctuary and gymnasium, sustained smoke damage.
The FBI confirmed it is investigating several fires at predominately black churches across the South, including Briar Creek, WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, reported.
Roughly 60 church members and supporters showed up Sunday in a display of resolve. A CMPD cruiser sat in the front of the parking lot, and two sheriff’s deputies stood on guard.
Inside, there were no lights or air conditioning. Windows were open, and worshipers used hand fans to cool themselves.
Speakers told the crowd the hardships were test of their faith in God and each other.
“I am standing on your shoulders,” said the Rev. Rhonda Kinsey, a minister at the Briar Creek. “I am leaning on you. Part of our heart was consumed. Thank God, he is a heart-fixer.”
One speaker, Jeanelle Woodard, said church members had planned for a year to honor women on Sunday. Woodard thanked the women in attendance wore all white to mark the celebration.
She said: “The devil tried to stop it, but he didn’t succeed.”