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FL Church Meets Outside After Fire Destroys Building During a Bible Study: 'God Has A Greater Plan'

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A Florida church is holding weekly services outside after a large fire destroyed their building. Members say the building does not define their church and they already see God turning their "tragedy into triumph".

Members of the Center Arena Church gather each Sunday looking at the remains of the building that was engulfed by flames on August 22. But instead of feeling hopeless and mourning the loss of their meeting site, members pack out the parking lot praising and worshiping God for bringing them through the tragedy.

Church member, Terrie Kelly, told CBN News that dozens of people ran out of the Orlando-area church when it caught fire during a Bible study.  Flames engulfed the roof within minutes. All members were able to escape as firefighters battled the large fire. The damages caused the roof to collapse.

"God turned a church's tragedy into a TRIUMPH," she shared. "All faith, no fear as the church continues its now Sunday morning drive-in services outside."

Pastor Rich Vera, the church's founder and senior pastor, was notified by an associate pastor of the news and realized he must quickly pivot about where he would hold services after it was destroyed.

They decided to meet outside.

"We are ready to release a message of hope that the building is down, but we are not down," Vera told WKMG-TV.

Associate Pastor Mike Dyzock told the outlet the building doesn't define their church.

"We are the church. We are the ones that meet," he said.

Vera's wife, Leslie, added, "We are at peace because we know that God has a greater purpose and plan for what has happened."

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Vera has started a GoFundMe page to help with its rebuilding fund citing Isaiah 9:10 which reads, "The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with cut stones; The sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars."

"We are a church that touches the community, city, state, and the nations, and now our home base is GONE. The church no longer has a building to meet, worship, and pray," wrote Vera on the page. "The Center Arena will rebuild, and we ask for the help of the global community that we reach to donate so we can rebuild better, quicker, and turn what was meant for evil into good."

Christine Ruiz was at the Bible study the night the church caught fire. She wholeheartedly believes that what the congregation is going through will be a testimony to the community.

"The church is going to continue to grow and people will see that God is real no matter what," she said.

Vera agrees.

"If God is God, then every issue in your life, God will send fire from heaven to consume your enemies. And I know that within time we are going to be back on our feet in quick time, bigger and better," he said.

Authorities are investigating what caused the fire. 

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.