ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Fire investigators will be at the scene of an Angelina County church fire on Monday, trying to determine what sparked the blaze.
Around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, multiple fire crews were called to Ryan Chapel Methodist Church on FM 2947 near Diboll.
"When I got here last night, everybody that was here was shaken up," Facilitating Elder Keith Broyels said. "[They were] mourning the loss of so much history."
No one was inside the church at the time.
Early Monday, the church posted
"The church is the people. We will rebuild better & stronger from this."
Ryan Chapel's annual homecoming had been scheduled for Sunday, June 9, with a church service and luncheon on the church and cemetery grounds. It is unclear how that event will be affected by the fire.
Member Mary Hendry said the church does plan to rebuild.
"We were insured," Hendry said. "It is tough, but we are more than this building."
Hendry said as of Monday afternoon, the plan was to bring out canopy tents and have an outdoor service on May 10.
"We have also had several churches open their doors to us," Hendry said. "They have offered us a place to continue worshiping. It is great. it shows the love that East Texans have for each other."
Hendry said the church building was full of memories.
"When they remodeled back in the 70s, my father designed the front of the church and built the wooden cross that was there," Hendry said. "So every Sunday, I felt like I was surrounded by family."
Pastor Broyels said the church will survive.
"The church isn't gone," Broyels said. "The church isn't the building. It's the people and they are strong. They have strong faith."
The church was established in 1866, and the cemetery contains the graves of many of the areas early residents,
It was the oldest Methodist Church in the county. Nearly a hundred years after it was formed, the church was given a historical marker.
A 1964 Texas Historical Survey Committee marker on the building said the original 16 feet by 20 feet building had puncheon seats and flooring. The first pastor, Rev. Henry Wright, was paid in bacon, corn, and syrup.
The present building, constructed in 1937, was the fourth structure on the site, the historic website said.
State fire investigator Stan Galloway said he expects to wrap up the on-site investigation Tuesday. Galloway said the canine unit will be on scene. Galloway said the FBI came out to assist in the situation, but was just there as support.