Fire causes $350K in damage at Cooper-Young church

(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Worshippers at a Midtown church were forced outside after a fire prompted a large response from Memphis Fire Department.

However, members of First Congregational Church in Cooper-Young didn't let fire stand in the way of their worship tradition.

The community came together to worship in the back of the church after fire officials closed off the building.

The fire was reported Sunday morning at about 6 a.m. Many learned about the blaze as they were arriving for service.

"The response has been wonderful," said Pastor Cheryl Cornish. "People pulled up with donuts and coffee in the parking lot and we've gathered and we'll just keep going until we know what the next step is."

Not much damage could be seen from the street where fire investigators taped off much of South Cooper.

"We have an amazingly resilient congregation and as you know our church isn't the building, our church is the people and the witness and the ministry that goes on," Pastor Cornish said.

It's the second fire at the church in less than a year.

Last January, a fire started by an unattended candle in a Sunday school room caused more than $2,500 in damages.

"We aren't totally sure about the cause of this fire, but it has nothing to do with the other," Pastor Cornish said.

Pastor Cornish said this congregation finds sanctuary, even in unfortunate situations.

"Christians just keep walking, and this is part of our faith journey and we'll do it," Pastor Cornish said.

Total damage is estimated at $350,000, and investigators said the fire started in the basement clothes closet.

The cause is still under investigation.

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