BUNKIE, La. (KALB) - For more than 60 years the David Haas Memorial Methodist Church has stood in Bunkie. But Sunday night the community watched in disbelief as the cherished building was engulfed in flames.
"We raised our family here,” said Caliste Rougeou, church member. “Our two girls were involved in the youth here. My wife was involved in the youth here. And I have always served on the board."
Rougeou is a 30 year member of David Haas. He's still in disbelief of what happened to his church.
"It really hasn't registered yet as to where go from here," said Rougeou.
Another longtime member, William Tebow, has a deeper connection with the church. His family helped build it.
"It's like not only losing one person,” said Tebow. “It's like losing families to death."
He said the loss of the building means the loss of many memories.
"I know it's all brick and wood but there's been people christened here and married here," explained Tebow.
Around ten o'clock Sunday night the church went up in flames. There were no injuries and none of the neighboring homes had to be evacuated.
Multiple fire departments were at the scene. The Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office is leading the investigation. They tell us arson is not suspected and they are checking different electrical outlets to find a source.
In the meantime, Pastor Brian Ridgedell told us relocating is not an option.
"If this can be rebuilt or it needs to be torn down and started from scratch, we don't have those answers yet," said Ridgedell.
He said the out-pour of support from the community is humbling.
"People coming by just to express their grief, and to identify with us, and just to pitch in and help wherever they can," said Ridgedell.
Even when it appeared everything is destroyed, there are things that remain undamaged.
"You can see the cross is still on the wall,” said Ridgedell. “The cross stayed up!"
These members use that as a sign of hope to pull through these hard times.
"It destroyed the building but it didn't destroy the people,” said Rougeou. “So we still have that and that's where we're going to build from."
Church members told us other churches in the area have offered their building for David Haas members during this time of rebuilding.