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'A Holy God Did Many Holy Miracles in That Building': NJ Church Holds Services After Sanctuary Destroyed by 8-Alarm Fire

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A Florence, New Jersey church whose main building and sanctuary were destroyed in a fire last week didn't let the destruction stop them from worshipping God on Sunday. 

As CBN News reported, a massive 8-alarm fire ripped through the Fountain of Life Center on March 20.  

Forty crews comprised of nearly 200 firefighters from several fire companies tried to tackle the monster blaze but were quickly forced to switch to defensive mode as the fire became too intense to be dealt with internally.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, and no injuries were reported. Some kids playing basketball nearby smelled the smoke and reported the fire to officials.

"It's a devastating loss," Senior Pastor Russell Hodgins said while speaking to the media. "We are devastated, but not defeated" he added in a Facebook video message. "The church is not brick and mortar, the church is really the body of believers. God will help us through this, and I believe the church will be stronger than ever."

slider img 2On Sunday, the Fountain of Life congregation held worship services at Burlington Township High School's Performing Arts Center, according to WABC-TV

The church posted photos of the service to Facebook, writing: "'He who goes forth weeping, carrying precious seed to sow, shall certainly come again with joy, bringing the harvest with him.' - Psalm 126:6  Even in tragedy, we can move forward knowing God is working." 

The social media post also included a link to the worship service that was posted to YouTube

"I can't tell you how good it is to be here today. I'll tell you what. It's been one week, but the Lord has been faithful," Hodgins told the audience. "The Lord is good. His mercy endures forever."

The pastor explained that the overflow room the church set up also had a few hundred people in attendance. 

"I'm grateful to be here today," Hodgins said. "I'm grateful to see all of you and I'm excited about what God has for the future."

The Fountain of Life senior pastor recalled on Monday morning before the fire he had posted to social media, writing: "Good morning. The Lord be with you today."

"And I had no idea, how much we would need the Lord that day," Hodgins said. "And on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday and today. And guess what? We'll need him tomorrow. And we'll need him the next day. And you know what, he'll be faithful to be there for us."

"He is the founder and the foundation of the church," the pastor continued. "And Jesus is the glory in the midst of the church. Are you ready to worship with us today?" he asked as the audience responded with cheers and applause. 

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Later while presenting his message he titled Trouble with a Twist, Hodgins shared a verse from the Bible's Old Testament.

"He who goes forth weeping, carrying precious seed to sow, shall certainly come again with joy, bringing the harvest with him." - Psalm 126:6

Hodgins noted the verse starts with weeping but ends with joy. 

"I want you to know what I hear God saying," the pastor told the congregation. "We can weep and go forward at the same time. And I want to give everyone here permission to weep. There's something to weep over. We have suffered a great loss. And it cannot be dismissed with Christian cliches." 

"Our house of worship burned to the ground," he said. "You've heard it said, and I've said it, 'The church is not a building. The church is not brick and mortar. The church is the body of believers,' and that is the truth. But let us not diminish the importance of that great house of worship. No, the edifice in itself was not holy, but a holy God did many holy miracles in that building."

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of