ALBERTVILLE, Ala. - Fire officials are investigating what started the blaze that destroyed part of LifePoint Church in Albertville.
The fire was in the children's facility, part of which was used by Room in the Inn, a county-wide ministry that gives people who need it a place to stay out of the cold during the winter months.
The church was home to the organization's day program, where people can learn life skills and have a safe place to stay out of the elements during the day. At night, different churches across the county house the people involved in the program and give them a hot meal.
The lead pastor of LifePoint Church, Matt Brooks said he heard about the fire over social media, then began receiving calls.
"I don't feel like the church is brick and mortar," he said,
"I think the church is a movement, it's not a monument. We have taught our people for almost 13 years that 700 LifePoint is not the church. The church is made up of people with a common agenda."
"We called everybody in from off duty, and we had Boaz Fire Department and Guntersville Fire Department come and stand by our station to catch calls, just in case," said Albertville Fire and Rescue Chief Brad Hix.
Fire crews kept the fire from getting into the sanctuary, and contained it in about two hours. There's no word yet as to what happened. The fire broke out after everyone had left for the day.
Albertville Fire and Rescue, the Alabama Fire Marshal's office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating what caused the fire. "That's protocol. Any time we have a church or a religious building, that's standard protocol to notify those agencies," said Hix.
"There's been an incredible outpour, already, of love, support, and people asking what they can do to help," said Brooks. "Most of all, I want people to know that God is in control."
"First, I want to say thank you to all the firefighters, police, and first responders. It is great that we live in a community like this that responds so well in times of need. Second, thank you to our community, church members, community leaders and all those who have shown concern for us," Brooks added.
The fire will not affect the upcoming Not Alone Conference on mental health in any way, Brooks said.
Room in the Inn is still available. The day program will be housed through the end of the season at The Venue in Guntersville, by Crawmama's. Donations are welcome and can be dropped off at WQSB in Albertville, the Albertville Chamber of Commerce, The Venue, or Boaz Chamber of Commerce. Things like paper plates, paper cups, paper towels, toilet paper, towels, wash cloths, and laundry detergent are needed. The organization lost what it had for the day program in the fire.
LifePoint will hold one worship service this Sunday, February 10, at 10 a.m. at the Albertville Fine Arts Center. For updates, you can check the Lifepoint Facebook page.
"God is a good Father. We are his children. He has a plan," Brooks says. "We will celebrate our God. We will celebrate Him regardless of our current situation. We look forward to what He will bring from this."
Brooks said bottom line, it's a hard day for their church community, but it's a chance for them to put faith into action.
"Every time there's difficulty, God always seems to show Himself and prove His plan. There's always something good that comes out of difficulty and we're kind of excited to see what direction this takes us as church," Brooks said.