The sounds of dripping water replaces prayer and song at Pastor Travin Roquemore's place of worship. "It's devastating," he said.
What was once vibrant yet peaceful is now blackened by the relentless power of smoke and flames. It's sobering evidence of a 2-alarm fire that devastated this century old portion of the Heights Presbyterian Church that also housed the Beacon Light Outreach Ministry - a small congregation of 45 members. "It makes you wonder where do we go from here," said Pastor Roquemore.
The blaze started in the attic just after noon Wednesday on 18th and Rutland. Damage is estimated in the upper hundreds of thousands of dollars. The main sanctuary was spared and no one was inside at the time. HFD says 2-fire walls in the attic stopped the fire from spreading and saved the rest of the church. "Churches are real problematic. They're huge structures especially the sanctuary area, a lot of furniture that can catch fire so if you can get a firewall it gives us a place you can contain it," said Captain Ruy Lozano with the Houston Fire Department.
Ministry members like Debra Lewis had a hard time containing their emotions after seeing the devastation. "It's almost like a slap in the face to me because this is our house. I'm here on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday. This is where I spend my life," said Lewis.
While Arson investigators say there's no evidence this fire was intentionally set, some church members think it's a possibility, especially after a break-in this past weekend. They also point to a bizarre chain of events before the fire. An unidentified man was spotted on campus followed by a door alarm being triggered. "We were notified that a door had been breached and then within another few minutes someone called the fire department," said Height Presbyterian Pastor Lynne Buckridge.
Terry Myers has been a member of Heights Presbyterian for nearly 50 years. "We're struggling to stay afloat and this is not going to help, but you know what it's okay, God's gonna take care of us," said Myers.
It's a test of faith for even the most pure of heart. "God is still in control and by all means don't let it destroy your faith, but let it increase your faith," said Pastor Roquemore.