A blaze caused more than $1 million in damage and completely destroyed the Morinville Baptist Church this weekend, but members say the group is moving forward despite having lost the building.

“When something that has been part of your life has burned down to the ground, it’s a bit of a shock at first but it’s just a building,” said Jean Claude Petit, a member of the Morinville Baptist Church.

“The church hasn’t burned. The church is the bunch of us, the church is the people.”

On Sunday, churchgoers gathered in a member’s backyard for service, before saying goodbye to the building – which went up in flames early Saturday morning.

The church was built about 25 years ago.

Petit, an architect, was responsible for drawing up the plans for the building.

“I had to draw it in a way that we could build it ourselves and we did that. We put it together ourselves,” Petit said.

The church was built by hard-working volunteers like church elder Howard Killick – who put thousands of hours into the construction of the building.

“It was a wonderful, beautiful little spot to come to,” Killick said.

It’s unclear where future services will be held, but there have already been a flood of assistance coming in from community members, the Town of Morinville, and other church leaders.

“My intention was clearly to bring our blessing to this church and our support in any way we can,” said Rev. Ron Horst with St. Andrews Anglican.

For now, Pastor Bill Wicks says Morinville Baptist’s members have all they need.

“We had a very wonderful service and people seem to be upbeat,” Wicks said.

“A building isn’t necessary for a functioning and vital church.”

Although members lost a building, the fact that no one was injured, and the group is still together, gives them strength, faith and hope.

Wicks says church elders will meet this week to decide where future services will be held.  

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

With files from Sean Amato