The church is the place where Ponyboy and Johnny hide after Johnny killed Bob. Early in the morning, Johnny goes to town to by food. He also bringa a copy of "Gone in the Wind" and asks Ponyboy to read it to him. One morning, when they meet outside to watch the sunrise, Ponyboy recites the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay.
After some days of hiding, Dally comes to visit them. He brings Ponyboy a letter from Sodapop, and they drive to Windrixville to get something to eat at the Dairy Queen. When they return, they see that the church has caught fire. It is unknown what caused the fire. Some say that some kids played with a match or that it was a cigarette that Johnny or Ponyboy didn't put out.
Johnny and Ponyboy help to save some schoolchildren from the burning church. When they try to get out, a piece of timber falls on top of Johnny, breaking his back. Dally also risks his life to get Johnny out of the burning church.