Pomaria, SC (WLTX) -- Early Thursday morning one of the oldest Lutheran churches in the state was gutted by a fire.
"This is just the building that's gone. Christ's presence is still here," Jerry Richardson said.
Just after 6:30 this morning, Jerry Richardson and his wife Carolyn woke up to a call that their church was in flames.
"There's no way that I can explain the feeling we felt at that time. As a matter of fact I thought she was going to have a heart attack because of just the sheer shock of seeing that," Richardson said.
Jerry has been a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church for all 74 years of his life. And his wife has been there for the 52 years they've been married. Their son was one of the first people on the scene. He's Pomaria's Fire Chief.
"Hardest thing is this is my church also. I've been a life long member here so it's been a tough morning," Barry Richardson said.
Jerry is very familiar with the history behind St. Paul and said this fire is deja vu.
"I believe this is our fourth church building and ironically one of the previous church buildings was destroyed by fire," Jerry said.
Although the entire sanctuary is wiped out, the granite walls of the church are still up. And Jerry thinks it's divine intervention.
"Now that's a signification for me that that church was built on a pretty solid foundation," Jerry said. "And as Christians we truly believe that that foundation is Jesus Christ."
The Richardsons are sure that the congregation will rise from the ashes.
"We just ask for everybody's prayers and we'll be back," Barry said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Churchgoers said there has been an outpour of support from other Lutheran churches. The've been invited to worship in multiple sanctuaries thoughout the county.