Sunday services held outside after massive Philadelphia church fire

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A West Philadelphia church community held Sunday prayer services outside after a fire destroyed the church's roof and interior last week.

With heartfelt hugs, the congregants greeted each other Sunday morning, ready to pray after their church, Greater Bible Way Temple, was heavily damaged by fire.

"Today is a new start. First of all, we love the lord. We know he has great things in store," said church member Barbara Woods.

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Firefighters battle blaze at church with daycare in Parkside. Chopper 6 is over the scene on August 27, 2019.

Through lots of prayers and a few tears, church members held Sunday services on Bible Way just outside the church at 52nd and Warren Street.

On Tuesday, the church destroyed by a massive fire. The pastor says work was being done to the roof using a gas-fueled torch when the fire started.

"My living today will not be in vain. So I ask you to help us. We need your help," said Bishop Benjamin Peterson, Jr., the church's senior pastor.

Peterson says about half of the damage will be covered by insurance, meaning they still need to raise about $3 million for a new roof and interior.

Church members are not deterred and say they will still offer a homeless shelter and food pantry in the building next to the church.

"We are still here on 52nd Street, changing lives, saving souls and working with the community," said church administrator Regina Williams.

"Regardless of the situation, the fire does not stop us because God is everywhere. Whether it's in the building or outside we're just here to praise God," said Regina Williams of West Philadelphia.

Church officials say services will be held outside as long as weather permits. The pastor says a tent will be put up next week.

Peterson says an engineer has been through the church, and they are waiting on the engineer's report to find out what needs to happen next.
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