ELIZABETH, New Jersey (WABC) -- A massive fire tore through a historic church in New Jersey early Sunday morning.
The 3-alarm fire broke out at the Shiloh Baptist Church just before 3:15 a.m.
Firefighters arrived within minutes and discovered the church fully engulfed in flames. The flames were so bad at times that crews had to pull back.
The back of the church collapsed before the fire department was able to extinguish the fire.
Crews immediately went to work to try to protect the buildings next door.
No one was inside the church at the time and no firefighters were injured.
Elizabeth Fire Department Chief Thomas McNamara said it was a sad day and that the church was "pretty much destroyed."
The church dates back to 1879. The church was a pillar to the community with multiple outreach programs for the homeless, including a soup kitchen and a clothing ministry.
Sunday morning services were scheduled for 11 a.m., but instead an investigation is underway into the cause of the fire
As crushing as all this was, it did not stop the congregation from praising God in all circumstances. Union Baptist graciously opened its doors and Shiloh Baptist will be having their services there for now.
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Fire tears through historic church in New Jersey overnight