Arkansas pastor looking for help rebuilding church after fire

HUGHES, Ark. — Members of a small Arkansas church said they are praying for something new: help from the Mid-South community to get them back in their sanctuary after a fire destroyed their place of worship.

Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Hughes burned down mid-March. Pastor Dedric Patterson said it started with a fire in the water heater that quickly spread.

“I’m better now than I was three weeks ago," Patterson said. "Just gonna trust the process."

Until the fire, the congregation had been meeting for 94 years and in this exact building for 26 years.

“It means a whole lot," Patterson said. "This area here is walking distance for many of the members, and it’s pretty much a pillar of the community."

Patterson is also a Hughes Police officer, or at least he was until the mayor closed the department in January due to low staffing.

Now Patterson said they’re determined to re-build the church and the police department.

"Just trying to see if anyone out there would want to help be a part of this movement," he said. "It would mean the world to us."

He said the church did have insurance, but his agent said it was only for the cash value, so it’ll cover less than half the cost of construction, which is estimated at about $150,000.

Until then, Patterson said he will spend his own money.

“I’m going to run the equipment myself," he said. "(I'm) going to bring in a dump truck and start the cleanup process on my own."

Patterson said he won't rest until the church can rise from the ashes.

Anyone who would like to help the church rebuild in any way can contact the church clerk at 870-400-1098.

You can also donate to Fidelity National Bank or any Regions Bank locations with checks or money orders made payable to St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church.

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