Ministry Thrives in the Midst of Tragedy


By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Mississippi Conference Communication Specialist
Photo right: The First Corinth United Methodist Church children's message on Easter Sunday was held in Fillmore Chapel due to the fire that destroyed the church.

Photo below left: Photos capture the damage caused by the fire in the fellowship hall at First Corinth UMC. 

The phrase--Keep Calm Carry On--may best describe the temper of members at First Corinth United Methodist Church after their recent tragedy. On March 13, fire destroyed the church's fellowship hall and ruined the power system to the building located in Corinth, Mississippi. All the glass windows were busted and the entire structure suffered heavy smoke and water damage. Salvaged church items had to be moved to 16 storage units across the city. Despite their loss, Rev. Roger Shock said he and the members were more concerned about keeping ministry going.

He stated, "We were already a very strong church and this has unified us even more and good things are happening and still happening." 
According to Shock, good things began happening on the day of the fire when Christ UMC said they could use their church for First Corinth's preschool program. Within hours volunteers from the church were setting up classrooms for the nearly 90 children enrolled in the school. Another good thing was that the church had a place to worship. The church owns the nearby Fillmore Chapel and relocated there. Since meeting in the chapel, First Corinth has celebrated three baptisms, five new memberships, and a wedding.   Shock said he was grateful to his administration for handling all of the business related to the fire so that he could be attentive to these services.

"I have a great staff. My staff has stepped up and done great things and gone above and beyond." Everybody has bent over backwards to get us through this," he commented.

The local Farmers and Merchants Bank also extended generosity to the church. The bank has given First Corinth access to rooms for office space-free of charge.   Shock estimated it will be at least a year before they can rebuild and return to the old church site.   He also said that the cause of the fire is still undetermined. In the meantime, he and the congregation will keep calm and carry on with ministry.