Ormond Beach church attempts to rebuild after lightning strike sets building on fire

It was a small gathering, Sunday morning, in the basement of the Historic New Bethel AME Church, in Ormond Beach. The building didn’t have any lights or air conditioning, since firefighters had to cut the power. 

"Because my church is a senior citizens' church, we don't want to give them no heat flash. But it's Florida, so it'll stay hot," explained Rev. Floyd Narcisse, Senior Pastor at the church, "so we'll have the old-school church, with the church fans, and worship the Lord in spirit and truth, no matter what happened this week.

What happened that week, was that lightning struck the church steeple, setting it on fire. A driver caught video just minutes after it happened. Flames and black smoke shot into the air, then it collapsed. Narcisse said the damage was bad. "We lost the steeple, and because of the fire we had a lot of water damage. So far, we had the insurance guy come on Friday and he's going to have to come back again this week because there's so much damage he's never seen before."

Ceiling tiles fell into the main sanctuary because firefighters poured so much water on the burning steeple. Narcisse said the extensive damage could run upwards of half a million dollars. He was hopeful that providence would provide. "We're trusting god that the insurance will do their part, but we still need members and people of god to help us out during this time."

The historic church has been in Ormond Beach nearly 140 years and was one of the first African American churches in the area. Church members said it was a blessing there wasn’t more damage and the fire didn’t spread. "This is a time that the church is coming together. We're all of one accord, and we will move forward from there," said congregant Terseca Narcisse.

Narcisse said they plan to solicit donations through the church website. They were also planning fundraising events. The steeple had already been replaced, after hurricane damage in 2017. Congregants said they would make it through the tough times, again. "If you can pray and serve God with light," said church member Janice Fulford, "you can serve him in the dark."