Bloomington church community vows to rebuild, continue services after devastating fire
BLOOMINGTON (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Just one day after a devastating fire heavily damaged their place of worship, members of a Bloomington church are now surveying what’s left and are vowing to rise from the ashes.
A fire devastated Victory Church in rural Bloomington Monday afternoon. Associate Pastor Annette Fellows was the first to see the smoke while she was driving down the road.
“My heart skipped a beat,” Fellows said. “I pulled into the parking lot and saw my church on fire”
It took five hours for firefighters from several departments to extinguish the flames before they rekindled again early Tuesday morning. A day later, the community is surveying the damage with their own eyes.
“When you see that kind of smoke coming out of your church, it’s like your home,” Associate Pastor John Fellows said.
Husband and wife Ed and Beth Herald founded Victory Church more than 20 years ago. It has since grown into a congregation of more than 300.
“We are looking at it from our perspective obviously as just a total loss because of the devastation we see,” Ed Herald said.
Although the structure they built together is not usable, it won’t slow down their resolve or their mission.
“The church, this is just a building,” Beth Herald said. “The church is alive and well.”
The two are vowing worship services and programs for their congregation will go on somewhere this weekend. More than a dozen local churches have already called called to offer their worship spaces. Herald says while it is often their mission to help people, they feel blessed to be helped by so many in their time of need.
“We’ve been amazed at what has happened,” Ed Herald said. “We’ve had calls from numerous churches and pastors... I personally have lost count of how many churches have offered that.”
Wherever this congregation goes next, they will take with them a large wooden cross that was saved from the flames.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined, but nobody was hurt. The church is holding a unity prayer Tuesday night at Journey Church in Normal beginning at 6:30 p.m.
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