Members of Antioch Baptist Church in Ralls County, Mo., lost their meeting place during the afternoon Dec. 20 when flames engulfed the facility.
The building dates back to the 1940s but the church was organized prior to the Civil War.
At press time, investigators were still trying to determine the reason for the fire. Crews began responding when they received reports of smoke pouring out of the rear of the structure sometime after 3 p.m. and later from the steeple and attic area.
According to the newspaper, by 5 p.m. the building had been lost to the flames. The roof and an exterior wall collapsed.
Pastor Jack Emmite told authorities everything looked normal when he left the building at about 2 p.m.
Firefighters from New London, Mo., and the Hannibal rural department were the first on the scene. A ladder truck from the Hannibal Fire Department arrived later.
According to the newspaper account, fire crews were hampered in their efforts to fight the rapidly spreading flames at the rural location because there were few fire hydrants nearby and tankers had to travel back and forth from about two miles away to secure water.
The pastor promised his congregation that they will have a place in which to worship together on Christmas Sunday, though the location was still to be determined at press time.