Parishioners attend services at city hall after fire destroys Cumberland County church

The fire started as storms were passing through town, but the cause has not yet been determined.

Sunday, August 13, 2023
Church services held at city hall following fire at Vineland church
Church services held at city hall following fire at Vineland church

VINELAND, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Six days after a massive fire tore through a church in Cumberland County, New Jersey, churchgoers are getting back on their feet.

On Sunday morning, parishioners from the Voice of Deliverance New Covenant Church in Vineland gathered at City Hall for Sunday services.

Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci opened city council chambers for an 11 a.m. service and said he will do the same next Sunday.

The blaze started as storms passed through the area on Monday, but a cause has not yet been determined.

The pastor gave a special sermon on Sunday related to what the church has gone through.

"My topic is out of the ashes," said Dr. Betty Hawkins, the pastor of Voice of Deliverance New Covenant Church. "Ashes are just something that's burning, but out of it shall come something beautiful."

Flames could be seen shooting from the roof of the church's building around 10 p.m. the night of the storms.

The fire on East Chesnut Avenue went to four alarms, but fortunately, no one was injured.

Investigators are looking into whether lightning played a role in the church fire.

"We've been looking for a place to go. It's very hard, losing the church so fast," said Symfani Taylor, the public relations director for the church.

As the church continues to for a more permanent location, the mayor of Vineland was able to provide them with space to worship at City Hall.

While the church is committed to rebuilding, people from the community have been coming together to volunteer their time to help.

"It feels that I'm contributing, and our city of Vineland is contributing to helping them get back on their foot again and it feels really, really good. It's one of the best feelings anyone can feel, to help the other people that are in need of help," said Sheena Santiago, the events coordinator for Vineland.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the church rebuild.