Painting of Jesus Survives Burning Church Unscathed

October 26, 2018 Updated: October 26, 2018

Lightning sparked a seven-alarm fire that totally gutted an historic church in the small town of Wakefield, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Nothing was left of the First Baptist Church of Wakefield, a town landmark for almost 150 years, save some remnants of scorched walls and a few ribs of the once 180-foot-tall steeple.

According to eyewitnesses, lightning struck the steeple shortly after 7 p.m.

Frist Baptist Church of Wakefield burning
The historic First Baptist Church of Wakefield burned down after being struck by lightning on Oct. 24, 2018. (Support the First Baptist Church/GoFundMe)

“It appears to have struck the front of the church somewhere in the steeple area,’’ Wakefield Fire Chief Michael Sullivan told the Boston Globe. “It really wasn’t showing a lot of fire [initially], but it broke out very shortly after we arrived.”

Interim Pastor Norm Bendroth told Fox News he had just settle down to watch the second game of the World Series—the Boston Red Sox were hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fenway.

Just as he got settled Bendroth saw “a fireball in the sky,” he told Boston 25.

“It just went up like a tinderbox. It’s a building built in 1870 and it’s balloon-style so once the fire starts you know the whole building just went up quickly.”    


Sky25 surveying damage at Wakefield church destroyed by massive fire Tuesday evening

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Boston 25 News‎‏ في الأربعاء، ٢٤ أكتوبر ٢٠١٨

Painting Survives Undamaged

One of the very few artifacts to survive the fire was a painting of Jesus that hung by the front door of the church. Despite the intense heat, the smoke, and all the water from the firemen’s hoses, the painting suffered no damage at all.

A painting that shows Jesus Christ wearing a white robe, holding out his hands that show the holes where nails were driven through his palms, had a few drops of water on it, Fox News reported.

The church was built in 1873
The church’s 180-foot-tall steeple had dominated Wakefield’s skyline for almost 150 years. (Support the First Baptist Church/GoFundMe)

“It’s a beautiful sign of hope and a reminder that Jesus is with us,” church member Maria Kakolowski told Boston 25.

“I am personally just taking it as a sign and a reminder that the Jesus, the Christ that we serve is still alive and even though our church building is gone, our church is here. The God that we serve is still here.”

Susan Auld, a parishioner who was married in the church and had her four sons baptized there, told the Boston Globe that the rescued painting was going to be given to a former pastor for safekeeping.

The church was built in 1873
In this undated photo the First Baptist Church had a 180-foot steeple, which could be seen from all around the town. (Support the First Baptist Church/GoFundMe)

The Church Will Carry On

The First Baptist Church congregation will continue to meet even though its beautiful home is gone.

Interim Pastor Norm Bendroth told the Boston Globe that local clergy from other places of worship had already offered space for the congregation of about 100.

This was not the first time this particular iteration of the First Baptist Church of Wakefield burned down.

The church has been meeting on the same site since 1800.  The recently burned building was finished in 1872. Unfortunately, it caught fire in 1912, and had to be rebuilt Fox news reported.

And the church is already planning to do it again.

The church started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the rebuilding the day after the fire.

On the church website, the church elders posted, “We know that we serve a God who specializes in restoring brokenness and who can bring beauty even from ashes. So we move into the future with trust, hope, and gratitude.”