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160-Year-Old Carroll County Church Destroyed In Fire Continues To Serve This Christmas

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Lazarus Church
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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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LINEBORO, Md.  (WJZ)—A Carroll County church gutted by a devastating fire earlier this month is continuing to serve the community without a home.

Christie Ileto explains how they’re picking up the pieces this Christmas at the Lazarus Church.

Their house of worship may have gone up in flames, but Pastor Sam Chamelin says his congregation’s faith has not.

“I describe it as we all lost our grandmother on the same day, and it really feels that way,” Chamelin said. “On the other hand, there’s just so much hope turning what has been to what will be.”

“You just don’t think this can happen to you,” one parishioner said.

But earlier this month, it did.

Pictures of the fast moving flames show how the two-alarm fire reduced the once historic 160-year-old church to a burnt shell of walls.

Sunday services are now held at a nearby fire hall.

After weeks of investigating, the state fire marshal says the blaze began in the attic space directly above the sanctuary.

But the fire marshal’s office still has not been able to rule a cause of the fire.

“It is a bit of a mix bag. Sometimes you feel there’s no closure, but on the other hand, we really feel it’s not about blaming or finding cause, it’s about stop looking at the past,” Chamelin said.

Firefighters were able to recover a few items from inside the church, including a chalice, a couple of crosses, even a marriage registry dating back to the 1880s.

The state fire marshal says damage to the church totals around $4 million.

“We’re still asking the question on what it means to rebuild, whether that means using what’s left of the building, or starting from the ground up,” Chamelin said.

The church’s mission to serve other continues despite having lost its home.

The church was originally built in 1853.

Pastor Chamelin says it’s unclear what the design of the new church will be.

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