A major fire ripped through a church in Burlington County, New Jersey earlier this week, completely destroying the entire house of worship. Despite the loss, however, the pastor and churchgoers are trusting that God will help them through it – and they even still plan to hold services this coming Sunday.
“It’s a devastating loss,” Senior Pastor Russell Hodgins said while speaking to media. “We are devastated, but not defeated” he added in a Facebook video message. “The church is not brick and mortar, the church is really the body of believers. God will help us through this, and I believe the church will be stronger than ever.”
Just after 6 p.m., officials say they responded to a call that initially came over as a three-alarm fire at the Fountain of Life Center on Burlington Columbus Road in Florence, N.J. After 40 crews comprising of nearly 200 firefighters from several fire companies arrived, the blaze was soon declared an eight-alarm fire, with flames and smoke that could be seen for miles. Firefighters tried to tackle the monster blaze, but quickly were forced to switch to defensive mode as the fire became too intense to be dealt with internally.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, and no injuries were reported. Some kids playing basketball nearby smelled the smoke and reported the fire to officials.
Pastor Hodgins thanked people for their prayers and help, and the “heroic efforts” of firefighters that saved the nearby school facility and also offered a great message of hope despite having “not a lot of answers right now.”
He also said they’re planning on having a church service this coming Sunday. “How amazing would that be” he said in the message. You can watch his full message below:
The 1,000-member Assemblies of God church meets in the Fountain of Life Center, which features a private school, which is directly linked to the church auditorium and may have been affected by the fire. Classes at the neighboring school have been canceled indefinitely.