A congregation in Morinville will be without a church for Sunday service after a fire completely destroyed their building overnight.

Fire crews say the Morinville Baptist Church is a complete write-off, and will have to be torn down and rebuilt completely.

“The floor is not safe, the basement is half full of water,” said Ken Thiemann, deputy chief of operations with Morinville Fire department.

Thiemann says crews were called to the church just after 5 a.m. Saturday morning.

“I came down to the scene and found smoke coming out of the chimney, the eaves, it had been cooking for awhile,” Thiemann said.

“We had one attack crew go in through the front door and one on the southwest corner as well.”

Thiemann said it looks like the fire began in the southwest corner of the church.

A backhoe was expected to be brought in later Saturday to tear down the building.

Al Brettnell is a member of the church and lives just a block away.

He almost didn’t believe it when he heard the church was on fire.

“You kind of think it’s a prank or something but sure enough, by 6 a.m. fire crews were already here and working on it,” Brettnell said.

“We observed what initially didn’t seem to be too bad, the building was still intact, there was lots of smoke but then the fire burst through the roof and it was quite an amazing spectacle actually.”

Brettnell has offered his home as a place for the church’s members to meet on Sunday – or the congregation may gather in the parking lot of the building.

Beyond that, he says there are other building spaces that will be looked at and another church has already offered its space for Baptist members.

“Now we kind of go back to the way it was done in the old days – meet in another house, meet in another building, meet in a school,” Brettnell said.

He said it’s a blessing that no one was injured.

“Fortunately it’s just a building and buildings can be replaced,” Brettnell said.

“I’m not thrilled that this happened but it’s not devastating in that it doesn’t break us apart and it doesn’t mean we can’t meet anymore.”

The fire caused more than $1 million in damage and investigators are still working to determine the cause of the blaze.