The Hickory Plains United Methodist Church held a fish supper and gospel singing fundraiser Saturday in an effort to raise money to rebuild the church.
Since its fire in May, the Hickory Plains United Methodist Church has rallied by holding outdoor services, and it hopes to soon move toward rebuilding the church.
The church’s Saturday supper event was part of an effort to raise money for the reconstruction project. King Kat of Carlisle catered the event, and entertainment was provided by the gospel singing group, Arkansas Edition of Searcy. Church pastor Debbye Harrison said the event had an amazing turn out. More than 575 adults were fed plus children and more than 600 were in attendance.
"It was outstanding," Harrison said. "We really were lucky it was not too hot."
Harrison said they had some come from three other states as well as throughout Arkansas just to attend.
"People really made a special effort," Harrison said. "We are very grateful."
According to Harrison, although the church was insured, the fundraiser was necessary because the insurance company did not consider the damage to be a total loss. She said because of the insurer’s decision, they are unwilling to pay the total cost to rebuild.
"Since its not a total loss, they aren’t covering everything," Harrison said.
Despite the news, the church continues to move forward. Harrison said since the fire, including the Saturday event and donations received, the church has raised more than $10,000 .
"A helpful spirit, really renews faith," she said.
The church, which was more than 150 years, went up in flames May 30 after a small storm moved through. According to the National Weather Service, a small lightning storm moved through the Hickory Plains area in Prairie County around 11:30 p.m. A few hours after the storm passed through, the church was seen in flames. The fire was ruled to have been started by lightning.
Harrison said the sanctuary was burned to the ground and the remaining building gutted. She said nearly all the contents were destroyed in the fellowship hall by a roof collapse, if not by the fire itself. According to Harrison, no one was in or near the church at the time.
The original church was built in 1860. After the 1860 church collapsed, it was rebuilt in 1930 with some of the wood, which was salvageable. The fire consumed the 150 year old wood from the original structure and two original benches.
Hickory Plains UMC is located at the intersection of Arkansas highways 13 and 38.