When we think of churches, we think of buildings. However, it’s the people who make them what they are. One of the connections between the burned churches is their history. All of these churches have been in the parish for over 100 years.
The oldest member of Greater Union Baptist Church is Horace Smith. Smith is 90-years-old and says he was baptized in that church when he was just five-years-old. His father was the pastor of Greater Union, and he says the recent church fires bring back painful memories.
“It brings back bad memories. It really brings back bad memories. You can look at things that have been going so beautiful, and all of a sudden, it fades away, so you have to look back, and you have to look forward,” Smith said.
He says everything has been beautiful for years, and he had no clue that he would witness what he calls extreme hate ever again.
“They hated you. I tell you the time when I came up, when you hear them coming down the road you better go hide in a cornfield. They were going to do you something,” Smith explained.
Smith says the moment he heard the church burned, his life “home” was torn apart.
“When I got the news, it was vexing. I could hardly take it. I just had to sit there and rock. It made me nervous; I tell you that much, Smith said.
Smith said he believes that hate is the driving force behind the fires, but despite the hurt, he refuses to allow that to stop him from moving forward.
“I will serve there until I die. I’ll be going there every time the doors open until I get a chance. If I can’t go myself, someone will take me,” Smith said.