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Longtime member reflects on memories at Coshocton church destroyed by fire

Max Olinger, 90, has been a member of the church all his life. He was baptized there in 1932.

COSHOCTON, Ohio — As the community reflects on the fire that destroyed the Grace United Methodist Church in Coshocton, the congregation is coming together.

On Sunday, church members will be welcomed for a private service at Canal Lewisville United Methodist Church.

Grace United Methodist Church was destroyed by a fire on Friday. On Saturday, 10TV learned a lightning strike may be the cause of the fire, according to the Coshocton Fire Department.  

Max Olinger, 90, has been a member of the church all his life. He was baptized there in 1932.  

“I grew up with it I went to Sunday School there for years,” said Olinger.  

Friday morning the church filled with flames. More than 70 firefighters from several different agencies were able to contain the fire around 2 p.m.  

“Last evening, I said I wanted to see how bad the fire was. I didn't know how intense it was,” he said. “The flames were coming out and I could see the roof was gone." 

Olinger said he saw the Facebook post made by the church about a painting of Jesus that had withstood the flames. Olinger said he leans his understanding on faith.  

"I said this had to be a divine thing. Everything around it had been scorched and burnt, but that painting had survived." 

Fire crews said no one was injured in the fire. The church wrote on its Facebook page that an engineer will come to inspect the standing outer walls of the building. After that, decisions will then be made on if the church will have to come down or not.  

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