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Investigators trying to pinpoint cause of Sunday morning fire at Mount Pleasant church

Bishop Steve Wood posted a photo showing damage to the inside of the worship ministry of St. Andrew's Church Sunday. (Source: Facebook) Bishop Steve Wood posted a photo showing damage to the inside of the worship ministry of St. Andrew's Church Sunday. (Source: Facebook)
Firefighters battled a fire at St. Andrew's Church in Mount Pleasant early Sunday morning. (Source: Twitter) Firefighters battled a fire at St. Andrew's Church in Mount Pleasant early Sunday morning. (Source: Twitter)
Daylight revealed extensive damage to the ministry center of St. Andrew's Church in Mount Pleasant. (Source: Live 5) Daylight revealed extensive damage to the ministry center of St. Andrew's Church in Mount Pleasant. (Source: Live 5)

Investigators are working to determine the cause of a fire that heavily damaged part of a Mount Pleasant church early Sunday morning.

Firefighters responded to a fire at the ministry center of St. Andrews Church in the 400 block of Whilden Street at approximately 3:30 a.m.

The ministry center is a separate building from the old historic church building which was left unharmed by the fire.

The church canceled services at its Mount Pleasant location but encouraged worshippers to attend one of two other locations in the area.

Hours after the fire was reported, the posted a photo on its Twitter account of the scene saying the fire was in the church's ministry center.

"Initially, we didn't think it was too much," long-time church member William Ellison said. "But when we walked out of our front door, we could see the flames coming out of the top of the church, and then we knew it was really bad."

In a Facebook post at 5:35 a.m., the church said the damage was extensive, but said they believe the historic church building itself is unharmed.

"There was a lot of fire when they got here, and they were able to save the old part of the sanctuary and stop it where you see it," Mount Pleasant Fire Department Fire Chief Mike Mixon said.

Chaplain Rob Dewey said a large cross and the handmade baptismal font, a receptacle that holds water for baptisms, were salvaged.

Several members of the church's community gathered outside the church to stand together and see the damage for themselves.

"This is my church," Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie said. "I was coming to worship here this morning. But you can see our community is here, and we'll respond the way Mount Pleasant responds."

On Sunday, the community responded by joining together. Official church services were canceled, but members from the church said that doesn't mean church didn't still happen.

"When the people gather, it's a church, so we have gathered and we are praising the lord," Associate Rector at St. Andrew's Church Anthony Kowbeidu said. "Even in the midst of this calamity, the church still gathers, praise be to God."

Dewey said Grace and Grit Restaurant provided a lunch meal for all first responders and said there was enough left over for parishioners to eat as well. 

On Sunday afternoon, the church posted a photo from the inside of the damaged building on its Facebook page.

"Lift high the cross! We will be just fine. The Lord promises to bring beauty out of ashes," Bishop Steve Wood, the church's rector, wrote in the post. "I trust His Word."

Fire broke out early Sunday morning

Mount Pleasant Fire and Police were on the scene of the structure fire in the 400 block of Whilden Street since approximately 3:30 a.m., according to Charleston County dispatchers.

Police were directing traffic in the area as fire crews worked to bring the fire under control.

Services at the Mount Pleasant church were canceled, but the church invited people to attend services instead at one of its other locations:

St Andrew's City Church - 9 a.m. & 11 a.m.
Meets at the Music Farm
32 Ann St, Charleston

St. Andrew's Park Circle - 11 a.m.
Meets at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary
Near E. Liberty Park Rd & Saranec St, North Charleston

"Please keep our church in your prayers and especially our leadership as they navigate a way forward," the post states.

There were no injuries reported in the fire.

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