By Irene A. Harkleroad

fireAbout 35 percent of Dolan Springs Baptist Church in Dolan Springs was destroyed by a suspicious fire on Saturday, Sept. 26. On Sunday, members held services under a Joshua tree on the property.

“A reporter asked how we were doing,” said Chris Zeller, the intentional interim pastor since June. “I told him we were going to be OK because we believe God causes all things to work for good and we love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Evidence of this belief is encouraging this body of believers and attracting the attention of the community.

“The insurance adjuster said this was a blessing in disguise,” Zeller said. “We will be able to rebuild and replace what has been lost.”

Some of the blessings are quickly becoming obvious. When the work is completed, the building will be in better condition than it was before the fire. Newly discovered asbestos will be removed. The leaky garage-like area that served as a fellowship hall and Sunday school area will become a fully-finished Arizona room. New ductwork and high-efficiency air conditioning units will be installed. The entire antiquated electrical system will be replaced.

“The church has received a lot of support. People in the community came to us and offered their condolences and places to meet,” Zeller said.

However, the church declined to meet elsewhere.

“As grateful as we are for that, we came together as church leadership and decided to continue holding services on the property,” Zeller said. “We want people to know that we are staying and that at 9:45, we will be having Sunday School and at 11 o’clock we will be having church.”worship

The church is discovering what it means to be part of the Southern Baptist family.

“The Southern Baptist churches around here have been awesome,” Zeller said. “They have provided chairs and hymnals. The association gave us a keyboard and amplifier to use. We may not have everything we want, but we have everything we need.”

The River Valley Mission Network has established an account for those who want to help. To donate, make checks payable to River Valley Mission Network (write Dolan Springs Fund in the memo section) and mail to PO Box 3599, Kingman, AZ 86402.

“The insurance money will go toward replacing like with like,” Zeller said. “There will be things we want to do that will require capital. It makes sense to get it all done while the contractors are here.”

The church would like to put a trailer on the property for Sunday School space.

“We have 50 kids coming to our Good News Club and are trying to reach their parents. … There is no practical way to increase the size of the rooms due to the block construction,” he said. “We need the space.”

For Dolan Springs Baptist Church, the fire has been a reminder of what the church really is.

When the media talked to one of the members about the church the Sunday after the fire, the member said, “The church is not the building. The church is the people, and we’re doing great because the people of God are here.”

“Our congregation really understands that,” Zeller said. “That’s a blessing.”