Church destroyed in fire, worships; talks of rebuilding

(WMC-TV) - Members of Gateway Church in Christ are picking up the pieces following a devastating fire caused by a hit and run driver Wednesday.

This morning the congregation held its first worship service at Memphis Athletic Ministries, Grizzlies Athletic Center.

With basketball goals at the Grizzlies Athletic Center hanging overhead, members of Gateway Church of God in Christ sang, prayed and gave thanks that no one was injured when the church caught fire Wednesday.

Pastor Perry Little described the fire as devastating to a congregation that started 60 years ago with just a few members.

"It has evolved over time from beginning with just a house where a group of mothers were having prayer and from there to just becoming a mission and then being converted into a sanctuary," stated Pastor Little.

Since the fire a number of people and congregations have reached out to Gateway with donations.  Several churches have volunteered the use of their sanctuaries.

This week, Gateway members are meeting at Memphis Athletic Ministries Grizzlies Center.  Next Sunday they will worship at St. Matthews United Methodist Church.

Investigators say the fire started when the driver of a pick-up truck lost control and hit power lines that then fell on the church and set the building on fire.

Pastor Little said the building was a total loss.

As the congregation leans on faith for the strength to deal with their loss, there is already talk of rebuilding.

This is a blueprint for renovation the church began looking at 4-years ago.  Now because of the fire members are talking about what it will take to make a facility like this a reality.

"So we have gone down and now we are going up," said Little.

Meanwhile the search continues for the pick-up truck that hit those power lines that ignited the blaze.  Police say the vehicle is gray in color and has heavy front end damage.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to call Crimestoppers at (901) 528-CASH (2274).

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.