Gibson County church rises from the ashes - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Gibson County church rises from the ashes

There's no sadness or bitterness in his voice when Reverend Daniel Donaldson talks about what happened at his church ten years ago.

"It was a tragedy, true enough, when our church burned," he said.  "But in the midst of that great blessings came out of that."
On December 30, 1995, arsonists burned down the Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Fruitland.  But the end of that 100-year-old building was just the beginning.

"People kept coming, they kept calling," Donaldson said. "People were sending money. They were sending gifts.  They were sending everything."
Within a few months, volunteers from all over the country started rebuilding the church. Unsolicited donations poured in from all over the world to pay for it.

Today the church building is 30% larger than it was before it burned, and the congregation has doubled in size.

"If you're positive, you're moving forward," Donaldson said. "That has a tendency to draw people that want to be a part of you. They get the impression that you're going somewhere."
Moving forward, without forgetting  Reverend Donaldson helped establish the National Coalition of Burned Churches to help other victims.

"We're back in our house of worship," he said. "I know there are others that are not, and that's our concern. To try to help them."
Reverend Donaldson said the arsonists have never been caught.  If they eventually are, as part of their sentence, he'd like them to worship with his congregation, so they can see the church they helped build.

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