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Jesus painting survives fire that destroyed 150-year-old church

A historic Massachusetts church went up in flames Tuesday night. 

>> Watch the news report here

The First Baptist Church in Wakefield suffered an apparent lightning strike during the severe weather moving across Massachusetts. 

>> On Boston25News.com: Massive fire destroys historic Wakefield church

Crews began dismantling the remnants of the historic landmark in the rain Wednesday morning. 

The 150-year-old building will now be torn down completely. 

Just one painting hanging in the front entrance of the church was left behind, nearly untouched. 

>> Read more trending news 

It has just a few little drips on it, but otherwise, the painting depicting Jesus Christ survived the inferno Tuesday night and now resides inside a parishioner's house. 

Although there is no official cause yet, several residents say they did see the steeple hit by lightning, and that set off a fire that grew to seven alarms. 

WFXT spoke with the pastor who was about to settle in to watch the Red Sox when a parishioner called and told him what happened. 

>> See video from the scene here

"I was down about a mile away and I just saw this fireball in the sky. It just went up like a tinderbox. It's a building built in 1870 and and it's balloon-style so once the fire starts you know the whole building just went up quickly," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Doctor Norm Bendroth.

It is not coming down quickly, but the old church is coming down – much to the sadness of parishioners and residents of Wakefield. 

The big priority Wednesday morning was the remains of the steeple, which partially collapsed onto the church. 

Survey: Black millennials are more religious than other millennials

Black millennials are more religious than other members of their generation, according to a new analysis from Pew Research Center.

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The analysis, based on data from the Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, revealed that 64 percent of black millennials are highly religious compared to 39 percent of nonblack millennials. Religious commitment was measured by a four-item scale which includes belief in God, self-described importance of religion, prayer and worship attendance.

More than half of black millennials (61 percent) said they pray daily compared to 39 percent of nonblack millennials, while 38 percent of black millennials said they attend religious services at least weekly compared to 25 percent of nonblack millennials. 

>> On MyAJC.com: Every Day Is Sunday: As atheism rises, nonbelievers find one another

Black millennials are also more likely to read scripture outside of religious services than nonblack millennials and 61 percent of black millennials said they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly compared to 50 percent of nonblack millennials. 

Millennials as a whole (the generation born between 1981 and 1996) are generally less religious than other generations, according to a number of recent surveys from Pew Research Center. This pattern is also seen among black millennials when comparing them to older black Americans.

>> Are families taking religion out of Christmas?

Black millennials are less likely than older blacks to say they pray daily, attend religious service weekly or that religion is very important to them. They are also less likely than older blacks to read scripture outside of religious services or report a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly.

A previous analysis from Pew Center showed that older African Americans are also more likely than younger black adults to be associated with historically black Protestant churches -- 63 percent of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) compared to 41 percent of black millennials.

Only one aspect of religion seems to transcend demographics. Respondents in all of these groups are about equally likely to report feeling a deep sense of wonder about the universe.

GQ magazine calls Bible 'foolish,' lists it among books 'you don't have to read'

The Bible’s been around for centuries, but GQ magazine is like, eh? What’s so great about it? 

>> Rev. Billy Graham chose John 14:6 to be placed on his grave marker

The Good Book makes the mag’s list of “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.” While allowing “there are some good parts,” the post calls the Bible “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish and even at times ill-intentioned.”

Instead, GQ suggests, how about “The Notebook" by Agota Kristof? It’s billed as “a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough.”

>> Read more trending news 

The Bible finds itself in the company of works by J.D. Salinger, Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway on the list of books that GQ is just not that into. “Catcher in the Rye” is dinged as being “without any literary merit whatsoever.” “Huckleberry Finn” is tedious, meandering and hamfisted, GQ says. Hemingway’s sentences? Too short. Even Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” makes the roster of books to skip.

Here’s the entire list, which includes contributions by various writers.

Photos: Pope Francis leads Easter Mass at the Vatican

Tens of thousands of faithful entered St. Peter’s Square to participate in Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on April 1, 2018.

WATCH: Pope Francis delivers Easter message after Mass at the Vatican

Pope Francis delivered his annual Easter message Sunday after leading Mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

>> Watch the Mass here

>> PHOTOS: Pope Francis leads Easter Mass at the Vatican

In his “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message, the pope asked for prayers for Syria; the Holy Land, Yemen and the Middle East; Africa; North and South Korea; Ukraine; and Venezuela.

>> Click here to watch

>> What is Easter Monday and how is it celebrated?

The pope also prayed for children who “grow up without hope, lacking education and health care” and elderly people “who are cast off by a selfish culture,” according to Catholic news site Crux.

>> Read more trending news 

See more at the Vatican's website here.

Billy Graham's funeral to be livestreamed Friday: How to watch

The invitation-only funeral for influential evangelist Billy Graham will be livestreamed Friday to allow people he touched with his worldwide ministry to watch.

>> Click here to watch the livestream

Graham died last week at age 99.

Graham will be buried beside his wife, Ruth, at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden on the northeast side of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

>> Billy Graham funeral arrangements announced, public viewing scheduled

Streaming will begin at 10 a.m. EST Friday on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. The service at the Billy Graham Library is scheduled to begin at noon EST.

About 2,300 invited guests are expected to attend.

>> On MyAJC.com: Georgia man worked with Billy Graham for nearly five decades

>> On AJC.com: Billy Graham is dead at 99

The funeral is expected to last 90 minutes and will be under a large tent in the main parking lot in front of the library, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

>> Watch more coverage on WSOCTV.com

The tent serves as a reminder of how Graham’s ministry launched under “The Canvas Cathedral” — a white canvas tent during a 1949 Crusade in downtown Los Angeles, where 350,000 people heard him share the Gospel over a period of eight weeks, according to a release about the funeral.

>> On AJC.com: How Billy Graham fought for civil rights

“It was Mr. Graham’s explicit intent that his funeral service reflect and reinforce the Gospel message he preached for more than 60 years,” said Mark DeMoss, spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

>> Read more trending news  

Franklin Graham will deliver the funeral message. Pastor Donald Wilton and David Bruce will speak at the interment service. Wilton was Graham’s pastor and a close friend in recent years. Bruce served for 23 years as Graham’s executive assistant.

As a Texas church reeled from a deadly shooting, another congregation stepped in to help

As First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, faced a tragedy, members of a nearby church quickly jumped in to help.

Pastor Paul Buford from neighboring River Oaks Church described to ABC News what happened when his congregation initially heard of the shooting.

>> Mass shooting at Texas church: Live updates

“We were in the middle of our church service down the road when we got phone calls from friends about this,” he said.

“We had some first responders in our church who immediately left and went down there. And then my church went to do what we do: We started praying for everybody and everything that was going on.”

>> Watch the interview here

According to Buford, it was important that the “professional people [could] deal with what they needed to deal with there.”

Buford’s congregation demonstrated the spirit of people jumping into action during a crisis.

“We’re all friends and family here, because this is a very small, close-knit community.”

>> Read more trending news

Twenty-six people were killed in the shooting. The suspected gunman was later identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of New Braunfels, according to multiple news reports. Kelley died of a gunshot wound after fleeing the scene in a vehicle, according to the Washington Post.

Steve Harvey shares inspirational message about faith and God

Steve Harvey spent his Sunday reflecting on God.

>> Watch the clip here

The TV personality shared a moving post with fans on Facebook on Sunday and spoke candidly about his relationship with God and his faith.

>> Read more trending news

“If you honor God, God gives you grace and faith. Since you can’t buy it, since you can’t purchase grace, you can’t purchase faith, He gives it out to whoever He wants to have it,” Harvey said. “But you can do some things to get more of it.”

>> On Rare.us: The world fell in love with Claire after she sang a hit from 'The Little Mermaid,' and now she’s stolen Steve Harvey’s heart

He added: “Gratitude and honor. If you are grateful, He will give you more things to be grateful for. If you honor Him and give Him credit, you give Him the praise and the honor, He will do things for you that you can’t even explain. He will reveal stuff to you that you will never know. He’ll show you things your eyes can’t see. That’s the beauty of gratitude and honoring Him.”

President Trump says you'll be hearing 'Merry Christmas' a lot more this year

Declaring victory on the “war on Christmas” at Friday’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., President Trump said he’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” during his first holiday season as president.

>> Read more trending news

“We’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct,” he said, explaining that politically correct culture has made it difficult to celebrate the holiday. “You go to department stores, and they’ll say ‘Happy New Year,’ or they’ll say other things, and it’ll be red -- they’ll have it painted -- but they don’t say -- Well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”

The crowd at the Christian public policy conference went wild, cheering on the president as he went on to call for tax reform, calling the possibility a “Christmas gift.”

President Trump has frequently used the “war on Christmas” to fire up the evangelical Christian wing of his base, saying on the campaign trail that political correctness prohibits people from proudly celebrating Christian holidays such as Christmas.

“So, when I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here someday, and we are going to say Merry Christmas again,” he said at the time. “Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone.”

Family finds Virgin Mary statue still standing after California wildfire destroys home

Families in one California neighborhood barely made it out alive before a raging wildfire destroyed everything.

>> PHOTOS: Northern California wildfires

Margaret Curzon took this video of what's left of her parents' house in Santa Rosa.

>> Click here to watch

They lived there for 26 years.

The only thing left standing when they returned was a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Her parents said they woke up Monday morning because their dog, Brady, was whimpering.

>> Read more trending news

They only had minutes to leave, but their neighbors were also trying to escape, so they couldn't get out quick and could feel their car getting hotter as the flames drew closer.

But her parents finally made it out.

>> On Boston25News.com: New technology giving first responders another tool to help during disasters

She said her father is a mailman, and he went to work Tuesday to try and get his life back to normal.

More than a dozen fires are still burning across northern California. 

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