On Christmas Eve, a fire burned down the Cherry Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. The blaze which started around midnight harmed no one. In the video below, Pastor T. Duwayne Privette speaks to the local news about the devastation. According to the Baltimore Sun, Privette, 36, who has been a pastor at the church since 2003, said it was founded more than 30 years ago by members who started meeting in a small house. In 1988, the house was razed and members built a one-story church on the same property.
The church has grown to about 170 members and offers Bible study, an afternoon youth program, a food pantry and pastoral services in the community, he said.
Ruth Flowers, 76, and her husband, who died in March, were among the original founding members of the church.
Flowers, the church's community services director, went to see the charred ruins yesterday morning. She left in shock.
Some parts of the church - such as the doors in the front foyer that still had green Christmas wreaths hanging on them - seemed almost untouched. But other parts, including a large portion of an exterior wall, were destroyed.
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"It was just unbelievable," Flowers said. "When you have really witnessed something grow up, and then see the destruction, it's just unbelievable."
Among the important things the fire damaged were the church's food pantry, used to help feed the homeless, and its membership records, she said. Flowers also lost her own laptop computer, which she had left at the church.
"Everybody is just like in total shock," she said.
According to city fire officials, firefighters were called to the church at 11:35 p.m. Tuesday and found the building fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters did not enter the building because of the danger, including the buckling of one of the exterior walls. No one was inside the building, and no injuries were reported.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1307