Danville congregation has temporary home after fire

DANVILLE — The Ridgeview Baptist Church has a temporary home for Sunday morning worship.

Pastor Mark Keyser said services will be held at 10 a.m. Sundays at the Executive Plaza, 3550 N. Vermilion St., a few blocks south of the church.

Keyser said Rich Darby, whose family owns the banquet center, stopped by the church at 3838 N. Vermilion St. on the morning of the fire and "graciously" offered its use to the congregation.

"Our plans are for it to be our temporary location as long as we need it, unless we find it's unworkable," said Keyser, the senior minister. "Our feeling is it's a healthy move for our church right now. It's not a sanctuary. We want to emphasize that we (the members) are the church, not the building, and we're thinking outside of the box."

He said a sign at the Executive Plaza, indicating the church's temporary location, is scheduled to go up next week.

The church also is moving forward with a community car wash at 10 a.m. Saturday, which had been scheduled before the fire, Keyser said. The car wash will be held at the church parking lot, and it's free and open to the public.

"We're not looking to raise any funds," Keyser said. "We're looking to express and return the love of Christ to the community. This was already planned. Being on Vermilion (Street), we have a nice location for people to swing through. We don't want to change that just because the building's not functional."

The minister said he's very appreciative of the many churches and other venues that also extended offers to share their facilities.

"And we may still be contacting some of those churches for things like weddings." said Keyser, who knows of at least three weddings that were scheduled to take place in the sanctuary through July.

Ridgeview Baptist's sanctuary was destroyed by a fire, which apparently ignited when lightning struck the building late Friday night. No one was at the church at the time, and no firefighters were injured while putting it out.

Damage — which was mainly contained to the sanctuary, although the rest of the building suffered smoke damage — was estimated at $750,000 to $1 million.

Keyser said this week, engineers and insurance adjusters have been on the scene studying the structural integrity of the building. They will determine whether the sanctuary can be repaired or must be torn down and rebuilt.

A professional fire restoration company also has been working at the building, Keyser said. He said the staff of three ministers, a comptroller, a secretary and a part-time secretary should back in their offices at the church by next week.

Until then, people can still contact staff at the main number, 442-2210.

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