A New Orleans church that has stood for nearly 200 years was heavily damaged after a fire broke out on Friday (September 9).
The 168-year-old Austerlitz Street Baptist Church in Uptown suffered a lot of damage on Friday morning when a fire broke out inside, per 4WWL. An official cause of the fire has not been announced, but a spokesperson with the New Orleans Fire Department said two people claimed a fireball burst from a pipe as they tried to turn on the lights, sparking a blaze that spread through the attic. Additionally, stained glass windows were busted and the carpet was left with water damage after firefighters doused the blaze.
Just days before the fire, Pastor Sherman Washington preached to his congregation of facing trials and tribulations and how they are simply a test.
"I don't care what you're going through. I don't care what you're up against. Whatever you're going through is only a test," he said at the time. "I'm so glad that trouble ... it don't always last. I thank God for that."
The church, which only recently had its roof replaced following the damage of Hurricane Ida a year ago, faced yet another test with the fire, but Washington held firm to his sermon when the following Sunday (September 11) he met with his congregation once again.
"I always say I hope I reach someone, I didn't realize I'd have to depend on that sermon myself to keep my spirits and my hopes up," he said.
Washington has been pastor at the church for three years but grew up attending the church himself as his grandfather and uncle served as pastors. Seeing the damage left behind from the fire made him emotional.
"I went home, I cried for about three hours and after I cried, it was like a funeral for the church," he said, "then God spoke to my heart and now it's time to restore it."
No injuries were reported in the fire, and it is unclear how long it will take to restore the damage.