Chesswood Baptist reopen date set after destructive fire

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 2:35 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 7:05 PM CDT
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POLK COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Thursday marks three months since a fire severely damaged the Chesswood Baptist Church in Polk County. Though the fire destroyed the sanctuary and caused damage for most of the building, the church’s pastor says they plan to be back inside for service next month.

“There was a tragedy that the church burned, but it’s really just the building that burned the church is still alive,” elder church member John Van Lieshout said.

On March 24, a fire ravaged parts of the Chesswood Baptist Church right off U.S. Highway 59 between Linvingston and Goodrich.

Polk County Fire Marshal Jacob Chapman said the fire was not deemed suspicious but classified as undetermined and could not eliminate electrical issues as the cause of the fire.

“It was necessary to correct some things,” Pastor Colonel Howard Daniel Junior said. “We’ve rewired the entire building. We’ve brought it up to code.”

In the interim, Colonel Daniel said services have been held at La Quinta Inn & Suites in Livingston.

“That has been home away from home,” he said. “They have been so wonderful to us, but it is time to move on. It’s time to get back to the campus.”

As crews continue to make repairs, church members say they plan to be back inside the building very soon.

“This is all happening for the date of July 4th, and I only pray that our people are going to come to church on July 4 rather than stay at home eating barbeque,” Daniel said.

That’s because crews have renovated the southern portion of the building for a temporary sanctuary not harmed by the fire.

“We plan to have our Wednesday night Bible study continually over there,” Daniel said. “We’ve ordered pews. Then some of our Sunday night services might be there as well.”

Daniel said the entire project costs just under one million dollars. Van Lieshout said they’ve received a lot of help.

“Insurance is being very cooperative,” Van Lieshout said. “We’ve had donation from surrounding churches. We couldn’t be more pleased with the project and the way it’s coming along.”

“My dream is Chesswood Baptist Church beside Highway 59 here will always be a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed,” Daniel said.

Colonel Daniel says the same contractor that built the building in the 1980s is helping with the current rebuilt with the goal to have everything complete by Christmas service.

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