PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — What began last week as repairs to a roof, ended with a historic West Philly church being destroyed by a fire. Despite the tragic outcome, the service went on Sunday for the congregation, outside of the church.
Regina Williams says the Greater Bible Way Temple has been her church home for 47 years. So when the stone building was engulfed by flames, she was devastated.
“It was the sacrifice and the struggles that got us this far,” she said.
But as members gathered outside for service, Williams said she’s hopeful now.
“We don’t give up, God hasn’t given up on us and we don’t give up on God,” she said proudly.
She says their mission goes on and that they will soon have an outdoor tent set up for the next few months to continue services.
“It’s historic in the community,” said Bishop Benjamin Peterson.
The SERVICE goes on for the congregation at the Greater Bible Way Temple this morning. A fire ravaged through their church just a few days ago but, they’re still “moving forward, regardless.” More on @KYWNewsradio pic.twitter.com/ZROxAKqdPx
— Antionette Lee (@arleeonair) September 1, 2019
He says the severe damage to the 115-year-old building is a loss for everyone in the community.
“We’ve given to the community — schools, daycare, before and after school care, summer camp, shared housing for the homeless and ministry,” he said. “We’ve never turned down a funeral, a wedding, a baby christening, or another church that needed our facility.”
He’s asking for help to restore the church that means so much too so many.
“We need your help. Whatever you can give,” he said.
He estimates that it will cost about $6 million total. The church has set up a GoFundMe account, and Peterson says they’re also planning a fundraising benefit for September.
He says those details will be released at a later time.