Investigation underway into suspicious fire that burned down a historic church in Whitney

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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WHITNEY, Texas (KWTX) -A historic church that has been part of the Whitney community for over a century has gone up in flames.

“They say this church has been around for about 150 years,” Pastor Shane Metcalf of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church. “It’s a historical landmark and the first African American church in Hill County.”

It happened Sunday night around 10:30 p.m. Pastor Metcalf says he was watching the eclipse Sunday night.

“Looking at that moon and it going pitch black,” he said. “I had just told my wife it’s about to get crazy, and I got a phone call about two minutes after I walked into my house they said the church was on fire.”

Pastor Metcalf says it started at the front of the church and began to spread. Officials say the origin of the fire is suspicious.

While officials begin their investigation, members of the church spent the entire day Monday in the parking lot. They are coming together during a challenging time.

“Everything I’ve worked for and everything I’ve gotten this far, it all started there,” Tessa Ray said. “They pushed us all back and you had no choice but to sit back and watch it burn.”

Members say while their heart breaks at this time, their faith is not lost.

“The message was this Sunday to quit trippin’, Gods got us,” Judea Garrett said.

Once investigators get to the bottom of what caused the fire, Pastor Metcalf says they will be demolishing the church to rebuild.

The community sprang into action to help them rebuild.

The company Bloom Wild is selling key chains with all proceeds going to help the church.

The church has also set up an account at Citizens State Bank for donations. They say do not donate to any GoFundMe accounts or cash apps. All donations will go through the bank.

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