Russell County church recovers from arson

Published 2:58 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

PHENIX CITY (AP) — A Russell County church damaged by an arsonist has turned its old sanctuary into a fellowship hall where members gathered to share a Christmas dinner.

On Sunday, the congregation of Woodland Baptist Church returned to the church for the first time since the Jan. 4 fire.

Services were held in a portable building this year and members picked up their chairs and took them to the new fellowship hall after a Christmas cantata in their mobile chapel.

They plan to break ground soon for a new sanctuary to replace the old one. Woodland was one of four east Alabama churches damaged or destroyed by arson and vandalism the first week of this year.

Two Smiths Station men were charged and the churches held a shared service to give thanks.