Hope burns bright as local church recovers from fire

Reporter: Ellie Mahan

November 2, 2022

Following a fire that destroyed Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in May, Pastor Shane Metcalf has seen his church family come together in support of one another during this hard time.

Metcalf said, “We are building up in faith. It was tough the first couple of weeks, but we just kept striving and moving forward. This is just fuel for the fire. Any time adversity comes at us like this, it is only to make us better.”

After losing their church building Sunday, May 15, the members have been meeting in various locations so that they can continue worshiping together. The members have met at First Church of the Nazarene recently, and they have been fellowshipping at different churches every few Sundays.

Pastor Metcalf said, “Several churches opened their doors to us, and that truly was a blessing.” He went on to thank all the pastors in Whitney and throughout the Hill County area for lifting his spirits during the church’s time of need.

Dirty 30 Construction LLC, a company that Metcalf owns, has been working on clearing out the land where the church stood in hopes that it can be rebuilt in the same location. What remains at the current site is concrete and a storage shed. Metcalf said, “We’ve already cleaned up the site. We’ve got to do some demoing for the concrete that is still existing. We’ve still got to clear out trees and burn, so hopefully God will provide a wet winter for us.”

Metcalf expressed that there is no exact timeline for the rebuilding of the church building. He said, “Even in times when it seems like nothing is happening, nothing is moving, I just keep putting my faith in God. I’ve had thousands of people ask me ‘when are y’all going to start back rebuilding?’ I say, ‘In God’s timing. We’re not going to rush it.”

He said that the community has helped the church raise a substantial amount of money so that they can work toward the rebuilding process. “It is enough to start it, but we are still going to need more to finish it. Those who donated to that account, it is definitely going to be used in a tremendous way to bless the people of God for that church,” he said.

Metcalf has been in ministry for 14 years. When he first began preaching at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, there were about five active members. At the Mother’s Day church service that was a week prior to the fire, there were 45 attendees.

He said, “I enjoy being a mentor and counseling and being the positive role model that the community needs. It has definitely kept me on my walk to being a better person and also being that pillar in the community that can shine light on other folks.”

He emphasized the importance of supporting others when they are struggling. He and his wife of 14 years, Amy, do their best to build up those around them.

“We try to encourage everybody and help everybody feel better about themselves. That is how I get my joy every day when I wake up. If I can encourage somebody to be happy and laugh, if I put a smile on somebody’s face, if God took me today, I’ve done my job,” Metcalf said.

He is hopeful about the future of the church and will continue to trust God’s timing. Metcalf said, “One of the most famous scriptures in the Bible says ‘Weeping may endure through a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ Our days may be dark right now, but joy one day will come.”

The church fire has been investigated by local law enforcement agencies and was handed over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Metcalf said that the church members have not heard any updates in the investigation.

Local firefighters initially suspected that the fire was caused by a cigarette that was not extinguished and left in a flower bed near the church building. No official determination of the cause has been reported by the ATF. The Lakelander Newspaper contacted a public information officer for the ATF’s Dallas field office but has not yet received further information about the bureau’s findings.

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