Wayne County church rebuilding a year after lightning causes massive fire

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. (WNCN) — Last July lightning from severe storms struck a Wayne County church twice in one night, sparking a fire that destroyed the building.

storm fire

CBS North Carolina spoke with the pastor of the Cricket Ridge Pentecostal Freewill Baptist Church in Mount Olive after the tragedy happened.

Now, we have checked back with him a year later.

A Bible was one of the only things that survived the flames, but the church has come a long way since July 2016.

They are getting ready to open their brand-new church sometime this fall.

A year ago, Pastor Terry Heath stood in the same place.

“We felt a great loss because this is our church home and this is our church family and we were in mourning of course we were,” said Heath.


His beloved church was burned to the ground, with only ashes left behind.

“I’m reminded of what the prophet Isaiah in the Bible said, that the Lord would give us beauty for ashes,” Heath said.

Now, more than a year later, he’s starting to see that beauty.

The 10 Commandments plaque that was spared in the massive fire. CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS
The 10 Commandments plaque that was spared in the massive fire. CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS

“We’re feeling great!” Pastor Heath said. “Aren’t we church?!”

The damage to the church was covered by insurance and crews started rebuilding the church at the end of May and they’re making progress.

“It was a process that almost seemed like there was no end to it,” said Vernon Freeman with the church’s building committee. “However, we are seeing the fruits of our efforts now.”

The congregation of 45 checks on the construction workers every week and posts updates about it on the church’s Facebook page.

The Sleep Inn is about a mile away from the church. They’ve opened a space for the congregation to hold mass until the new church reopens.

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