MOUNT AIRY, N.C. -- A historic church in Mount Airy is a total loss after an apparent lightning strike on Thursday.
Officials say people nearby reported hearing a loud boom and then came outside to find the Ararat Missionary Baptist Church on fire. They believe strong storms came over the mountains and generated a lightning strike which hit the church steeple.
"I saw the steeple. It was just in flames. And the tears almost came to my eyes," said Edward McDaniels, who is a trustee and 38-year-member of the church.
Firefighters scrambled to get some of the valuables out of the church but couldn't save everything.
"The fire was coming through the roof and started falling in," said Deacon Clinton Carter.
They were able to save some stained glass windows, bibles, pews and an altar. Most of the rest of the remnants of the church were lost.
"The shock is over. And I'm just facing reality. That we just have to go on, because we have to keep that faith," said McDaniels.
Sadly, members say this is not the first time their congregation lost their church. Over 100 years ago, when the church was in a different building just down the road, it too caught fire.
"It's a lot of history here. So we hope we can rebuild and that some of the history can continue," said Faye Carter, the church clerk.
Thankfully, the congregation did have insurance on the building.
The neighboring LH Jones Family Resource Center has offered to let them worship there while they figure out where to go next.