Demolition begins on 115-year-old Philadelphia church ravaged in fire

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On Friday, demolition began on the 115-year-old church ravaged in a massive blaze last year in Philadelphia.

The three-alarm blaze erupted at the Greater Bible Way Temple at 52nd and Warren streets just before 3 p.m. on August 28, 2019.

Nearly six months later, crews are trying to rebuild the historic structure.

Inside the church, pieces of religious art that adorned the previous Catholic Church remain among charred debris, damaged but still regal.

RELATED: Massive inferno engulfs 115-year-old Philadelphia church in Parkside
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Firefighters continue to douse hot spots at Parkside church: Katherine Scott reports on Action News Mornings, August 28, 2019

Bishop Benjamin Peterson held a prayer vigil Saturday morning as parishioners took pieces of rubble to hold as keepsakes.

"The congregation has been in existence for 62 years. I've been a pastor for 25 years and I just believe the latter glory of this house is going to be greater than the former glory," said Peterson.

Since the fire, which the fire marshal ruled as accidental, Bishop Peterson has been in full fundraising mode all while offering church programs like a food pantry and clothing donations to the community.

The fire caused about $4 million in damages.

"We're short about $1 million to reach our goal along with a new church and family life center. I look forward to serving the community," said Peterson. "It's the end of a chapter and I believe it's the beginning of a new chapter. This is not the end of our story."
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