LAST YEAR ON NEW YEAR'S DAY, a string of ten deliberately set church fires began in Athens, Texas, and moved to Canton and across East Texas. On Saturday, January 16, the Tyland Baptist Church in Tyler burned, and the following night, some of our members saw our church—First of Christ, Scientist, Tyler—burn. Although the foundation and brick structure of our church remained sound, the interior was damaged by water, smoke, and fire.
The following Wednesday, during our testimony meeting in our off-site Reading Room, we received a call from First Presbyterian Church in Tyler, offering their chapel for our Sunday services. We also received a generous financial commitment from a local Methodist church. And since that time, beautiful contributions have come from many other individuals and churches of different faiths.
A few days after the fire, our Committee on Publication for the state of Texas met with our members. His inspirational talk helped to lift us above the material picture of devastation and to focus on the spiritual idea of Church. An hour of sharing took place during which we also addressed the element of fear in our community.