BRANCHVILLE, Va. - The Rising Star Baptist Church is destroyed after a fire Wednesday night.
The Courtland Volunteer Fire Department battled the fire in the Little Texas area. The church was fully engulfed in flames and church members are devastated. Rising Star Baptist Church has been a staple in the community for more than 150 years.
"This is like a home church for us. My family, we’ve been here for years and I have a lot of family members who are laid to rest here as well. Very sad, very sad, a lot of memories. This is one of the oldest black churches in the whole county. Over 150 years old. So you can think of all the memories and people. People that have links to this church," said Winton Donovan Davis.
Davis said because of the church's age and older wood structure, the church was destroyed in an hour. Davis told News 3, the fire department told him close to 100,000 gallons of water was used to fight the fire.
Church members are determined to rebuild the church to be stronger and better than before.
Pastor Willie Lowell Diggs and the Galilee Baptist Church have offered Rising Baptist Church members to come and worship along with them until their church is rebuilt.
Two eyewitnesses said they saw lightning hit the church, and an arson investigation Thursday confirmed that the fire was the result of a lightning strike.