Post-Fire Christmas for Colbert Church

12-21-05 - For the first time in 127 years, Christmas services will not be held at a Colbert church. Fire destroyed the Center Union Baptist Church just two weeks ago, but the congregation is finding a way to move on.

Christmas will never really be the same for those who worshipped at Center Union. The church had deep roots in the community. It was established in 1879 during the days of segregation.

Fire broke out in the early morning hours of December 7, gutting the building and destroying everything inside.

No one was hurt, the state fire marshal's office ruled the fire accidental, and Center Union does plan to rebuild. Still, so many members actually grew up in this building, never knowing a Christmas outside these walls, but their pastor says the congregation will not let this setback ruin the holiday.

Pastor Ronald Shaw of Center Union Baptist Church says, "The idea of Christmas is it has to start in your heart, because if you put the emphasis on the building, on the structure and the structure gets destroyed, are you going to lose hope? Do you lose your identity? No."

That is the message. In fact, Christmas services for the Center Union Baptist Church will be held just a few miles away at the Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Hendrix, Oklahoma. Worship will start at 11 on Sunday morning.

Until Center Union rebuilds, other churches in the area have offered assistance. Colbert schools have also provided a meeting place for Center Union members.