What to Know
- A four-alarm fire tore through Shiloh Baptist Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey early Sunday morning
- Congregants have started a GoFundMe page raising money to rebuild the structure
- The cause of the fire is still under investigation
Congregants who attend a New Jersey church that was destroyed in a fire on Sunday have vowed to rebuild the historic house of worship.
A four-alarm fire tore through Shiloh Baptist Church in Elizabeth around 3:15 a.m. on Sunday, leaving it “pretty much destroyed,” Elizabeth Fire Department Chief Thomas McNamara said.
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On Sunday evening, a GoFundMe was set up to raise money to rebuild the structure.
“We lost everything in a devastating and tragic fire early this morning at the historic (141 years old) Shiloh Baptist Church in Elizabeth, NJ,” organizer Robert Ingram wrote on the fundraiser page. “Instead of waking up and being able to go to church, we woke up to this. Now we’re trying to rebuild.”
Video taken at the scene early Sunday morning showed the church fully engulfed in flames. The cause of the fire is under investigation, officials said.
Church Pastor William Ingram was visibly shaken as he spoke to reporters at the scene of the fire Sunday morning.
“I don’t have any idea [what happened]. It was fine yesterday evening, so, I don’t know what happened,” he said. “This was a shock, when I got the call this morning.”
"We were anticipating waking up this morning coming to church to worship… and you wake up to this," he added. "[But] that’s the nature of life, and you know, that’s why we have faith."
The church on Murray Street was founded in November 1879, according to its Facebook page. Before the fire, it served as a soup kitchen and hosted clothing drives.
Congregants will attend services at the nearby Union Baptist Church until Shiloh Baptist Church is rebuilt.
Parishioner Nelson Rivera Flores said he has been going to the church for the past 20 years.
“... [W]hen I saw the pictures this morning — I still get emotional," he said. "Because there’s so much memory, and [it’s] such a family-oriented church, that we’ve grown to love one another."