Church Fire Fundraiser

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

May 18, 2006

A special service is planned this weekend to help raise money for a local church nearly destroyed by fire earlier this month.

Inside the Charlottesville church of Christ there is extensive damage, but outside today pastor Rufus Hayes said thanks for all of the help he's received.

"The community has responded tremendously. I am moved by the compassion and the consideration to our loss and the help," Hayes explained.

This weekend the church is asking for just a little more help. A special service benefiting the church of Christ is planned at the Mount Zion First African Baptist Church at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 21. It's just one more way that the community is helping out.

"Some churches have given furniture, some have given chairs, and all the churches are going to provide some kind of donation," said fundraiser Rev. Alvin Edwards of Mount Zion First African Baptist Church.

A May 5th fire destroyed the offices and damaged the sanctuary. Police arrested 24-year-old Jason Santos in connection with the fire. They say they believe the homeless man broke into the church to cook some food.

The goal is to raise $10,000 to cover insurance costs, and many different people in the community are helping out.

"We may be different races, we may be different denominations, but here is a religious institution that has suffered a tragic loss, and when one religious institution suffers, we all suffer. So all of us will be here to represent and say we stand with our brother in his loss," said Edwards.

The religious leaders took a tour inside the church to see just how bad the damage was--from a charred baptism pool to melted light fixtures. You can also see blood from where Santos climbed through the window to break-in. But despite all the damage, some things like the piano are still in tune.

Services are currently being held at their old church on Commerce Street.

A fund has also been set up. Donations can be sent to:

Charlottesville Church of Christ Disaster Relief Fund
c/o Wachovia Bank
900 East Jefferson Street
Charlottesville Va, 22902

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