Firefighter saves historic Bible from blaze at Miss. church

"So many pastors from the 1800s had written into that Bible and preached from that Bible," said Casey Rodgers, an elder at College Hill Presbyterian Church


The Associated Press

OXFORD, Miss. — The Mississippi church where William Faulkner was married nearly a century ago has been heavily damaged in a fire.

College Hill Presbyterian Church, northwest of Oxford, caught fire Saturday night and burned for more than three hours, the Oxford Eagle reported.

Lafayette County Fire Chief Wes Anderson (right) and county firefighters inspect the aftermath of a fire at College Hill Presbyterian Church near Oxford, Miss., Sunday morning after a Saturday night fire destroyed the majority of the historical structure. The church which was built in 1844.
Lafayette County Fire Chief Wes Anderson (right) and county firefighters inspect the aftermath of a fire at College Hill Presbyterian Church near Oxford, Miss., Sunday morning after a Saturday night fire destroyed the majority of the historical structure. The church which was built in 1844. (Photo/Maya Martin/The Oxford Eagle/Associated Press)

The congregation was founded in 1835, and the church was built in 1844. Faulkner and his wife, Estelle, married there in 1929 — two decades before the novelist received the Nobel Prize in literature.

The pulpit and most of the church's red-brick exterior and white columns survived the fire, but the original stained-glass windows and pews were destroyed. A firefighter retrieved a Bible from the pulpit.

"So many pastors from the 1800s had written into that Bible and preached from that Bible," said Casey Rodgers, a church elder. "There's a lot of history that was lost, so we're thankful that it was able to be saved."

Lafayette County County Fire Chief Wes Anderson said authorities are investigating what caused the fire.

The church will continue to hold worship services in the fellowship hall next to the main building.

The church's nursery coordinator, Debra Patterson, said people will sometimes sit inside or outside the building, even when services are not happening.

"The doors are never locked, so you can always just come in and pray," Patterson said. "It truly is a sanctuary."
 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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