Virginia congregation offers forgiveness after church destroyed in 'catastrophic' fire

Hopewell, Virginia

Photos taken by WRIC-TV, Richmond, Virginia.

The Hopewell Church of the Nazarene in Virginia was deemed a total loss after a catastrophic fire destroyed the building 5 April. 

"It is with a heavy heart that we report our beloved church suffered a catastrophic fire late last night," church leaders posted on Facebook. "Thankfully the professional first responders from Hopewell Fire & Rescue and Hopewell Police Department contained the fire quickly and prevented a spread to our neighbors."

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a church neighbor alerted the local fire department at 10:40 p.m. The fire was deemed under control approximately two hours later.

Investigators said the fire started in the sanctuary. After further investigation, the fire was ruled arson.

"While we have learned that the fire was arson, we as a church hold no ill will toward anyone and offer forgiveness to those involved," church leaders wrote on Facebook. "We are grateful no one was injured and have open arms to families in our community."

Though the church has lost its place of worship, Senior Pastor David Woods still has hope for the future of the church.

“This is a setback, it is not a cessation," Woods told WRIC-TV, Richmond, Virginia. “It's not about the buildings and the bricks and the books; it's about the hearts that we're able to touch. The hearts that have been already impacted by this church through the years, and those that will continue to be blessed as we move forward."

The Hopewell congregation has already begun moving forward and held a church service 7 April in a neighboring town at Colonial Heights Church of the Nazarene.

"Our place of gathering is gone," Woods told local CBS news. "So, we’re concentrating on moving ahead, because as a church we are a community, not isolated to the Church of the Nazarene or even the church in Hopewell, but we are a worldwide body of Christ that strives to make a difference."

Prayer is requested for the Hopewell church family.

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