Fire destroys former Bethel Baptist Church building in Jonesboro


JONESBORO, Ga. — A lightning strike is being blamed for a Sunday evening fire that gutted the former Bethel Baptist Church in Jonesboro.

Flames were shooting through the roof of the building, which is now home to Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal, when firefighters arrived.

Pastor Elfries Cortez said the fire broke out after Sunday evening services had ended and the congregation had left.

“I want to thank God that he saved the lives of 500 of these members,” he told Atlanta’s WXIA-TV. “The Lord has all the control to save our souls and our lives."

Lois Hunter, who once sang in the choir, told the TV station that the church had been an important part of Clayton County for years and was like a second home to her.

“I’m just hurt,” she said. “This is a part of me.”

Cortez told WXIA-TV the congregation plans to rebuild.

“My vision is something bigger than this,” he said.