The Valdosta Daily Times
A house of worship was reduced to rubble in the early hours of Christmas Day when a fire broke out inside the 129-year-old Ousley Temple near Highway 84.
Witnesses reported the blaze at around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, but the concrete building was all but lost by the time Pastor Curtis Sermons arrived an hour later.
“It never feels good when you suffer a loss,” said Sermons. “It feels as if someone took something from us. But we can't dwell on that now. We have to start to planning our next step.”
The Ousley Temple congregation will work out their short and long-term plans this Sunday. For now, Sermons said the church's members have been welcomed in by the Ousley Baptist church just across the intersection.
The Ousley Temple church had just celebrated its 129th anniversary this past November, said Sermons. He said the church has undergone several renovations and is preparing to hurdle the Christmas Day obstacle.
“We will rebuild,” said Sermons. “Several people have called to offer their support. We'll assess what we have. We won't know our next move until Sunday. We thank the community for their support and phone calls. You'll be hearing from us in the future.”
Detectives with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office have been conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire, according to reports, and have been assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Georgia State Fire Marshall’s Office and Lowndes County Fire and Rescue.
Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office at 229-671-2900 or 229-671-2975.