BIRMINGHAM Ala. (WIAT) — Members of New Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Hueytown are now dealing with the aftermath of a fire destroying their church building.

Senior Pastor, Charles Winston Jr., says the loss of their church is sad, but they are choosing to move forward with a positive outlook.

The church went down in flames Friday afternoon, but the church’s destruction did not discourage the congregation from continuing on with Sunday services.

Winston says his focus lies on the wellbeing of the church’s people first and foremost.

“As I greet our parishioners, I just want to know if they’re ok,” said Winston. “If they’re okay, then the church is okay. They’re a marvelous group of folks. Our faith is intact, our love for the lord is undaunted and they’ll build a new building.”

Winston says the building may be gone, but the congregation’s faith is healthy and strong. He also says the body of their church is not defined by its building, but rather by the people. 

“The congregation has been marvelous, but that’s who they are, and that’s how we operate,” said Winston. ”We know that the building is the house of prayer- the building is a place of worship. We’re the church.”

Winston says the Hueytown Mayor, Steve Ware, is allowing their congregation to use Hueytown’s Brooklane Community Center for worship as long as they need.

He says the most immediate need, a place to worship, is already met. Now they have time to talk with the insurance company and others willing to partner with the congregation for the next steps.

For now, Winston says the congregation is okay and will heal with time.

“I spent the first four years paying off property,” said Winston. ”I’ve spent the last 18 years building faith, building relationships, living and being loved. So, we’re good… we’re good.” 

Winston says this incident has brought the congregation closer to each other and to the city because of the love and generosity they’ve received.