MARION, S.C. (WBTW) — Members of a Pee Dee church assessed damage on Wednesday after their church caught fire on Tuesday night.

The fire happened at the United Fellowship Center on Murray Street in Marion. The church is 73 years old, and some people said they could still smell it burning outside.

Marion Fire Rescue said the fire was under control at about 8 p.m., and crews stayed on scene until about 9:15 p.m.

The church’s bishop, Keith Chambers, said it was built in the 1950s by his parents.

“When I walked in, it was just too much,” Chambers said. “There was just smoke coming from everywhere. The firefighters got there as soon as they could, but by the time they got there and got set up and everything, it had just gotten out of hand.”

Chambers said one thing did survive the fire, however.

“The firemen came out and they said everything was charred and burnt on the inside,” he said. “They came out with a bible, and the bible just had a partially burnt part on the cover. Everything else was well-intact.”

Chambers said he was doing renovations on the church the day of the fire.

“Everybody was praying, you know. A lot of the members were crying,” he said. “They thought I was inside working for the last week or so, doing things on the inside.”

Chambers was not inside.

Instead, he said he got a phone call that his wife and child were in a car crash. He said he stopped, turned everything off in the church and rushed to the hospital.

30 minutes later, Chambers said he got another call that the church was on fire.

He said although the fire destroyed everything, including the newly renovated kitchen, with the help of the community — he is hopeful.

“It doesn’t matter if we have to start back over in a tint again,” Chambers said. “This church started in a tent. Sitting right over here in the grounds, that’s where the tent was. If we have to go from there to wherever God — I believe in God.”

Chambers said they are working with the city inspector to see what can be done with the damage.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

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Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on Twitter and read more of her work here.