Church destroyed by fire in the Bronx

July 25, 2010 3:54:57 PM PDT
Fire burned through a church in the Bronx early Sunday.

The building that houses the Love Gospel Assembly has stood on the Grand Concourse for 98 years.

The fast-moving, four alarm fire gutted the sanctuary in minutes.

Investigators spent the morning trying to figure out what sparked the fire that devastated the building, mere hours before hundreds of congregants were set to show up for Sunday morning services.

Congregants gathered and prayed while the flames ate through the sanctuary.

"They're coming to worship and they're looking at their temple in this condition so it's quite shocking for a lot of our folks," Rev. Lillian Gutierrez said.

Church leaders hastily organized an impromptu service in the lot behind the building.

Hundreds of congregants braved the heat and prayed.

Love Gospel has deep roots in this community, and members say they aren't going anywhere.

"We will continue to feed the poor, do our prison ministry, like we always do," congregant Damen Hayward said.

Church leaders say they do plan to rebuild.

A homeless shelter next to the church was also damaged. Ten families were being placed in other shelters.