TEMPLE (January 19, 2014) A standing room of about 1,000 filled the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Temple Sunday morning, as the church opened its new campus.
The new facility cost about $10.9 million.
Church members had been split up at various temporary locations after the downtown building was set on fire by arsonist on Jan. 19, 2010.
"It's been an emotional time and today's an emotional day," said Ronny Marriott, pastor.
"We are thankful for the past and we seek God's hand in all of this putting all the pieces together to form this puzzle and this foundation, but we are ready to move forward."
Church goers enjoyed the new facility that included a café and indoor playground for children.
"To get to see this...what an amazing rise from the ashes story," said Cheryl Jones, who had been a church member for 20 years.
Others reflected and showed forgiveness towards the heartbreaking incident four years ago.
"I was there early in the morning and saw the whole thing," said Kay Bacon, member for 40 years.
"We stood on the parking lot with tears all day long, people came and the churches downtown were so nice. It was a very sad day in the church, and yet from day one I knew that wasn't the church. The people are the church."
Although the church community is on a forward motion path, Temple fire investigators said the arson investigation remains open.
The individual responsible for the fire has not yet been caught.
Anyone with information is asked to call the fire department at 254-298-5682.