Church Communities Come Together

Ruckersville Baptist Church on the morning arsonists set fire to the sanctuary on Aug. 22.

It’s inspiring to witness first-hand how positivity evolves from tragedy.

On Aug. 22, arsonists set fire to Ruckersville Baptist Church. The church’s sanctuary was more or less destroyed, and the quick work of firefighters saved the rest of the building. But the damage is still extensive, and rebuilding has yet to begin.

I covered the initial story and had the opportunity to follow through this past weekend. I didn’t know beforehand what a privilege it would be.

The pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Madison (about an hour north of Charlottesville), Rev. Alan Follett, invited members of Ruckersville Baptist Church to his own. Ruckersville’s pastor, Rev. Kyle Clements, would speak at the church’s homecoming.

I was immediately welcomed upon arriving at the church, which I was lucky to find. Google Maps didn’t know where it was, so I headed in the general direction of Mt. Zion, hoping I would find it. I arrived to see a handful of workers setting up tables for an early dinner that would follow the service.

Mt. Zion members were excited to welcome Ruckersville members, who have been displaced by the fire. They’ve been worshipping in their fellowship hall and other spaces since the fire.

I spoke with Rev. Clements again. Church members are lucky to have this man as a pastor. He’s been a strong, level-headed leader throughout this ordeal, and he continues to exude positivity as the congregation moves forward. The church has seen an outpouring of support since the fire, which has helped the healing process.

In his sermon, Rev. Clements said that church isn’t a denomination, but rather a community. This was echoed by Mt. Zion members whom I spoke with. It was incredibly inspiring to see the two communities come together as one. A bus filled with Ruckersville church members pulled off, and I recognized some of them from that August day. They’re still supporting their church, even if they don’t have their building.

The service was powerful, and Revs. Clements and Follett are moving, engaging speakers. These are two lucky congregations.

I received a phone call from Rev. Clements yesterday to thank me for the coverage of the service. He told me I conveyed what he felt in his heart. To me, there is no bigger compliment. I look forward to following the story of Ruckersville Baptist Church.


AS I WAS setting up my camera inside a church, a woman from Mt. Zion began chatting with me. She came up to me earlier in the day to give me a program and a bookmark, which read, “Welcome, friend. We are blessed you are here today.”

“You were at the Madison football game, weren’t you?” she asked me as I was setting up. I admitted that I was. On Friday, I shot the Luray vs. Madison high school football game for the weekly Friday Night Endzone show on ABC16. With the number of turnovers (mostly from Luray), those teams had me running along the sidelines all night long.

“Yeah, I saw you running around down there. I have to brag a little. My grandson’s the quarterback. In fact, he’s sitting right over there,” she said, pointing him out to me.

We discussed what a good game he had, as Madison went on to win, 55-14. Her grandson made my final edits and got on TV for a few a few of his good plays. He had many.

I’m realizing more and more how much CBS19 has an impact on the community. From covering the aftermath of a church arson to a high school football game, people rely on us. It’s an honor to help out.