LINEBORO, Md. - A fire tore through a Carroll County church just after 4:00 Tuesday morning. The flames engulfed the entire building, and sent the roof crashing in.
For more than 150 years, Lazarus Church has remained a focal point in the quiet Lineboro community. Now, just a shell of what it once was, it's drawing attention of a different kind.
"It's devastating. It's like losing a family member," says Terry Nowlin, who's attended the church for years.
Flames first shot through the right portion of the building, but so far, crews have not determined a cause.
"I don't know what hell's like, but it sort of felt that way. It's just heart wrenching. It's just everything that this place means, to know that it's gone; it's just awful," says Pastor Sam Chamelin. Chamelin is part of one of the church's two separate congregations: Lazarus United Church of Christ and Lazarus Lutheran.
Now, the two congregations are left searching for a new home.
"It's hard. But at the same time, you've probably seen a lot of people hugging and holding each other. And seeing that is, is great," says Lamar Bailey, Vicar of the Lazarus Lutheran Church.
Crews spent Tuesday sifting through the rubble; officials are estimating the damages to exceed $1 million. Church members are organizing an on-line fundraiser, to help raise money for the church. You can help out here: http://www.gofundme.com/5kij2s
Church members came together Tuesday evening at the Linesboro Fire Hall to hold a prayer service in memory of the former church.
The members are hoping to rebuild, but say it's too early to say whether they'll build in a new location or on their current site. In the meantime, they plan to worship as usual in a new location.